News and Events

Seminar Regulating Cannabis

Experiences from the U.S. and the current debate in the Netherlands

24 May, TIAS-building, Room TZ4

Since the 1970s, the Netherlands have developed a complex policy with regard to hashish and marijuana that increasingly met with criticism because of its inconsistency. Advocates of more extensive regulation have argued that countries such as the United States have now adopted more progressive policies than the Netherlands. But what exactly is happening in the United States and what are the effects of policy changes? Can we expect similar effects in the Netherlands when the current proposal of law on regulation of the sale and production of cannabis becomes effective?

On 24 May, the Department of Criminal Law organizes a seminar with professor Clayton Mosher, Washington State University, who has extensively studied the recent U.S. marijuana policy. Professor Emeritus Cyrille Fijnaut will present his views on the proposal to amend the Opium Act in order to regulate both production and sale of hashish and marijuana in the Netherlands. To introduce the topic professor Toine Spapens will focus on earlier experiences with regulation of (former) illegal markets. 


  • 15.00 - 15.20
    Some do’s and don’ts of regulating (former) illegal markets
    Toine Spapens, Tilburg University

  • 15.20 – 16.00
    U.S. marijuana policy: a ‘rapidly moving target’
    Clayton Mosher, Washington State University

  • 16.00 – 16.20
    Critical reflection on the proposal of law to redesign the Dutch coffee shop system
    Cyrille Fijnaut, professor Emeritus, Tilburg University

  • 16.20 – 17.00

  • 17.00 – 18.00


The Netherlands have allowed the sale of hashish and marijuana in coffee shops since 1979. At the time, the drugs were imported from abroad and consequently the authorities were unable to also allow supply. Since the beginning of the 1990s however, the coffee shops are increasingly supplied with good quality home grown cannabis following the introduction of indoor cultivation methods. This gradually led to a debate about regulating both the production and sale of hashish and marijuana, culminating in a proposal to change the Opium Law which was recently adopted in Parliament but is still pending in the Senate.

Advocates of regulation argue that the current policy is highly inconsistent and that countries such as the United States and Uruguay now show a more progressive attitude than the once guiding country: the Netherlands. Furthermore, regulation would substantially reduce opportunities for illegal growers and criminal groups behind the world of cannabis cultivation. Opponents underline that the illicit cannabis industry would hardly be affected, because at least 80% of the harvest is exported. Regulation would also be in violation of international treaties to which the Netherlands are party and would worsen its already negative image of a ‘narco-state.’

Clayton Mosher received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Toronto, and is currently a Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Sociology at Washington State University Vancouver. He is the author of several books and articles in the areas of inequality in criminal justice system processing, drugs and drug policies, and the impact of prison construction on employment. He is currently working on a book dealing with marijuana policies with primarily a U.S. focus.

Cyrille Fijnaut was professor of International criminal law and comparative law at Tilburg University. During his career, he published numerous studies on organized crime, terrorism and cross-border police cooperation, as well as on policing issues. He has worked as an expert for a number of governmental and parliamentary committees of inquiry in the Netherlands and Belgium. His studies include the effects of the drug policy in the Dutch and Belgian border areas.  

Toine Spapens is professor of Criminology at the Department of Criminal Law at Tilburg University. He received his Ph.D. in criminology in 2006. Since the early 1990s, Spapens has done extensive empirical research on (organized) crime and its containment. These studies include trafficking in illicit firearms, ecstasy production and large-scale cannabis cultivation in the Netherlands, illegal gambling and match-fixing and environmental crime.

Entrance to the seminar is free, but please send an e-mail to Mrs. Tilly Franken to register (

When: 24 May 2017 15:00

End date: 24 May 2017 18:00