Holland Extends Cannabis Experiment

Liz Filmer
27 Jun 2024

A trial scheme that is introducing the legal sale and production of cannabis in the Netherlands will be rolled out to eight more cities.

What is the Cannabis Experiment?

In December 2023, the Dutch government launched a pilot scheme to control the cannabis production that supplies the country’s famous  ‘coffeeshops’.

The enterprise has now been extended across the country, to simplify the process and secure safer, more controlled dispersal of cannabis products.

The experiment is now due to be rolled out in the cities of Groningen, Zaanstad, Arnhem, Almere, Nijmegen, Voorne aan Zee, Heerlen and Maastricht. This will complete the initial phase of the experiment which was launched in Breda and Tilburg at the end of 2023.

The main goal of this phase of the experiment is to “optimise” the “quantity, quality and diversity” of cannabis products available currently in “coffeeshops”. Cafes in the cities named under the trial will now be permitted to sell illegal cannabis and licensed cannabis.

Currently, three suppliers are functional and are producing regulated cannabis. Authorities are optimistic that another two will begin operations by September.

It is expected that the 80 coffee shops in the trial will only be permitted to sell legal products from the start of that month. The experiment is designed to gradually eliminate the “backdoor” policy as it is currently known.

Introduced back in the 1970s, this policy decriminalised the possession of small quantities of cannabis and permitted licensed sales outlets. However, at the same time, it restricts production and wholesale sales which creates a “door in, door out” system. While customers can lawfully purchase cannabis in the coffee shops, the production and supply chain remain illegal and this has given rise to considerable criminal action.

The dual system has led to issues such as theft, violence and money laundering. Further, consumers often lack knowledge about the kind of cannabis they are consuming, leading to health risks that health services are unable to manage effectively.

Mayor of Breda Paul Delpa is a firm supporter of a regulated system and emphasised that the essential objective of the experiment was one of safety.

In an ntyerview with a Dutch News Agency last year, Mr Delpa was quoted as saying: “Dutch weed policy is quite sneaky. People can buy it legally in coffee shops, but the production of the weed and the purchasing part from the store owners is illegal. This means that there is a large criminal world that thrives on producing the weed and selling it to stores. That must change.”

Despite concerns voiced by the new government coalition, a bulk of deputies voted against the submission of the far-right party PVV, to interrupt the experiment. An additional proposal to include Amsterdam’s eastern district in the trial was denied at the final hour.

The victory of this experiment may pave the way for a wholly regulated cannabis market in the Netherlands, Something that would set a precedent for other countries that are facing similar problems.

More From Soft Secrets:

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Liz Filmer