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Legalize Weed

Feature Story Xp Bonaire IslandLIfe

On 2 April 2020, Ralph Nolen, a Bonairean born resident of the island, started a petition for legalization of the cultivation, sale and possession of cannabis for both medical and recreational use on Bonaire. This is the second time Ralph has tried to bring attention to the difference in law and policy enforcement on the island of Bonaire and in the European Netherlands.

Within only a few weeks, the petition was signed by approximately 400 people and is being followed by a few thousand. The petition is online for you to read, sign and comment. Shortly, a hardcopy of the petition will be handed in to the island government.

Ralph has always been open about his opinions on matters of politics and advocating for the legalization of weed on Bonaire. Equal rights and opportunities is the bigger picture he envisions. As a local business owner and Bonairean born, he believes that we have plenty of opportunities to build a strong economy even without the motherland or fight for equality within the system.

In the petition, Ralph urges the local and Dutch governments to change the laws, dating back to the 1960’s, and bring equality in enforcement of the law and decriminalization of recreational use and users. Change in law and enforcement could bring new possibilities for our economy, tourism, job creation and allegedly could improve our health.

LAW The Netherlands – Bonaire

The European Netherlands

Officially the possession, use and sales of marijuana, cannabis, weed, whatever you want to call it, is illegal in both the European Netherlands and Bonaire. Through the so called “Gedoogdbeleid (policy of tolerance)” in the European Netherlands, the sale of the soft drugs in the over 500 coffee shops is not prosecutable. The possession of no more than 5 grams or 5 plants is neither.


On Bonaire we don’t have the differentiation of soft drugs and hard drugs, only different articles under criminal offenses for different drugs. Even though the policy is to not prosecute for the first offense (possession of under 5 grams), the second time can lead to a fine or jail time depending on the assessment the law official makes. The policy of tolerance as we know it does not apply on Bonaire.

Production by Dutch Law

The production and cultivation of weed is a complicated matter. While the use, possession and coffee shop sales are allowed, the production is mostly punishable, which makes the system flawed. In 2017, the implementation to partly legalize the production and cultivation was agreed on and should have been implemented as an experimental trial in 2020. Due to Covid- 19, this has been delayed once more.

Needless to say, the production or cultivation of weed on Bonaire is 100% illegal.

Bonaire is also not on the list of the 10 municipalities selected for the experimental trial.

Since the legalization or decriminalization of medical and recreational weed worldwide has risen exponentially, the benefits of this drug/plant have also made it a commercially attractive ingredient for various other products, like cosmetics, hygiene products, recycled packaging and much more.

In Ralph’s opinion, the cultivation of hemp and weed on the island is possible and could be used for the production of many sustainable products that would fit right into our island’s vision. It would create new possibilities for startup businesses, create new jobs and introduce a new industry to our economy.

Tourism – Confusion

The use of medical and/or recreational marijuana becomes more common each year as the legalization or decriminalization occurs in many countries worldwide. The world renowned Dutch tolerance policy concerning recreational use of soft drugs not being enforced on Bonaire is confusing to many tourists who see the island as PART of the Netherlands.

Some might also argue that it would bring extra tourism to the island. The Caribbean is already known for the use of marijuana and Bonaire even more so since it is part of the Netherlands.


The Office of Medicinal Cannabis (OMC) is the only official supplier of medicinal cannabis in the Netherlands.

Since January 2001, the OMC has been the government agency responsible for implementing the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. It is also responsible for overseeing the production of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes.

The OMC has a monopoly on supplying medicinal cannabis to pharmacies and on its import and export. The OMC also processes applications for exemptions from the Opium Act relating to cannabis and cannabis resin.


Realistically, legalizing weed on Bonaire will be something in the far future, if ever. The international treaties on drug control will make it hard to legalize in a region that is known for its drug production, export worldwide and is in an active drug war right now.

Many countries have softened and changed their approach in enforcing their opium or drug laws, but for many federal governments the step to full legalization is problematic due to international drug treaties.

Changes in enforcement and tolerance policies concerning use, sales and production is possible and in some people’s opinion, our right.

Pro & Cons

The discussions about the dangers and benefits of weed use on our health are ongoing. Not enough research has been done on all the active plant ingredients and their effects on humans to factually know the definite answers yet.

Here is some WEED INFO

What is medical marijuana?

THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol and another ingredient called cannabidiol (CBD) are the main substances of therapeutic interest. Though marijuana, or cannabis, is commonly known as a recreational drug, it has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. Many states in the USA have legalized it for medical use, though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved it as a medicine.

The mind-altering ingredient in marijuana is THC, short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. The amount of THC in marijuana varies.

When THC enters the body, it attaches to and stimulates cannabinoid receptors in the brain. The stimulation of these receptors affects the body in various ways. Among its effects are reduced pain and increased appetite.

Another chemical in marijuana that has beneficial health effects is cannabidiol (CBD). Unlike THC, this chemical isn’t psychoactive and doesn’t cause the intoxicating effects that THC does. According to NIDA, CBD can possibly be used to treat childhood epilepsy. It could also be turned into an oil for use as a healing salve. More research needs to be done into the effects of CBD.

What does it treat?

In states/countries where medical marijuana use is legal, a doctor must write a prescription for the drug.

Researchers continue to study the medical benefits of marijuana. It may be effective in treating:

chronic pain, due to its effect on the central nervous system


muscle spasms, especially those associated with certain conditions such as multiple sclerosis






chronic pain



persistent muscle spasms, including multiple sclerosis

seizures, including those related to epilepsy

severe nausea

any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that limits your ability to conduct major activities in life or can cause serious harm to you if not relieved

Medical marijuana is used to relieve symptoms. It isn’t used to treat or cure diseases. Using it won’t change the outcome of a certain disease. But it can ease certain symptoms, make you feel better, and improve your quality of life.

According to the CMA, cannabis is most effective in treating chronic neuropathic pain. Because marijuana can make you hungry, it is also useful in treating conditions or side effects of diseases that cause a loss of appetite, such as AIDS.

What may the side effects be?

increased heart rate

low blood pressure

dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting

short-term reduced memory

short-term reduced attention span

decreased problem-solving skills

Cognitive side effects of marijuana use include impaired:


sense of time

sensory perception

attention span

problem solving


reaction time

motor control

People with mental or emotional disorders may have paranoia or hallucinations. It could also make their depression or mania worse.


Are you interested to read the petition, follow, comment or sign it? Go to the link here> Legalize Cannabis Bonaire

(Sources: NIDA, CMA, The national institutes of Health,, OMC, Statista,

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1 Comment

Pat Coye
Pat Coye
Jul 24, 2023

Well written and hopefully they can get with the times!

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