WILLEMSTAD. – The proposal for a new opium law in Curaçao will grant the relevant ministry the authority to cultivate, prepare, and export various derivative products such as marijuana, poppy, and cocaine. Additionally, the ministry could decide, for example, to use its authority to permit the recreational use of drugs in certain locations.

This authority will allow the ministry to regulate these matters through a national decree, meaning that it will not be necessary to go through parliament for approval. This change in the law will advance much more quickly than previous intentions to pass a law for the cultivation of cannabis and the production of medicinal products. If this change in the law is approved by parliament, the ministry will be able, through a national decree, to decide on all the necessary permits to cultivate, produce, and export these medicinal products. All this would take place without the prior knowledge or approval of parliament.

Article 8a of the proposed law stipulates the following: “Under a national decree containing general measures, conditions can be established under which means, activities, or circumstances can be entirely or partially exempted from the prohibitions set out in articles 2, 2a, 3, 3a, and 4.” Therefore, through a national decree, the ministry can stipulate the conditions under which means, activities, and circumstances can take place, exempt from the prohibitions established in articles 2, 2a, 3, 3a, and 4.

These articles refer to the illegal activity of planting poppy, and cannabis, and preparing products derived from these plants, but also cocaine and other types of drugs. The way in which the possibility of exemption by the ministry is formulated is very broad.

The proposal to change the opium law is framed within the “mutual evaluation” (MEVAL) that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will submit to Curaçao. This month, FATF will begin its fourth evaluation and, in this context, it is important that Curaçao complies with the recently adopted international standards and FATF recommendations.

To comply, it is necessary to make changes, among other things, to the country’s opium law, as well as to the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. Given the short time remaining before the evaluation begins, the government of Curaçao, in a letter dated April 19, 2024, made an appeal to the Advisory Council (“Raad van Advies”, RvA) to prioritize the legislative proposals sent to the council.

The RvA agrees that it is necessary to protect Curaçao’s financial system and prevent its misuse. The “National Risk Assessment (NRA) on money laundering Curaçao 2020” indicates that the illegal drug business poses a risk for combating money laundering in Curaçao.

According to the NRA report, Curaçao primarily functions as a transshipment country and that international drug business in most cases forms the basis for money laundering activities. The RvA expresses this in its advice on the proposal to change the opium law.


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