THE BOTTOM- Saba is not allowed to implement a ’tolerance policy’ for the cultivation and use of hemp products. A request to the Dutch Minister of Justice and Security to harmonize the soft drugs policy and regulations in the Caribbean Netherlands has been rejected. Not because the Dutch minister would be against said policy, but because Bonaire and St. Eustatius are obstructive.
The Island Council of Saba had asked for coordination with the legislation in the Netherlands, where a policy of tolerance is applied to the use of cannabis.
The outdated old Antillean law now forms the basis of various prosecution and criminal law guidelines and leads to considerably higher penalties for soft drugs on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius than in the Netherlands.
Residents of Saba, assuming that upon joining the Netherlands they would also enjoy more relaxed rules regarding hemp and weed, started growing hemp plants at home. But they were wrong: hemp plants are confiscated and people are prosecuted.
In the context of the current Opium Act, it is in principle possible to implement a tolerance policy on the islands in the Caribbean Netherlands and to give substance to the harmonization of the soft drugs policy.
But in follow-up talks with judicial partners of the three islands, negative advice was given about a possible tolerance policy. According to the Dutch minister, support from Bonaire and St. Eustatius was an important condition to consider the possibilities of harmonizing the soft drugs policy in the Caribbean Netherlands.
According to Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius of Justice and Security, there is no support for a policy of tolerance, which means that full harmonization with the Netherlands is not desirable.
The minister also clarified that it is also not allowed to grow cannabis plants at home in the Netherlands and that this is prohibited under the Opium Act.
A person is usually not prosecuted when authorities find fewer than five plants in their home, but these plants can be confiscated. If someone grows more than five cannabis plants at home, he or she is usually prosecuted in the Netherlands.