Netherlands to Launch Cannabis Pilot Program

The government of the Netherlands will launch a cannabis pilot program with the goal of full-scale legalization

Wait, you might ask, doesn’t the country with Amsterdam cafes already have legal cannabis?

Technically, no. Not legal, like in Canada or Uruguay.

The Dutch decriminalized cannabis in 1972, making possessing an ounce or less a misdemeanour. By 1976, “coffeeshops” were all the rage. The official policy is one of tolerance.

So while it is still technically illegal to buy, sell, or produce cannabis in the Netherlands, the law is not strictly enforced.

Netherlands to Launch Cannabis Pilot Program

Netherlands to Launch Cannabis Pilot Program

It seems as if the days of cannabis prohibition are numbered. Observers expect this Netherlands cannabis pilot program to pave the way to the full legalization of the cannabis supply chain.

The Dutch Senate approved it in 2019, but banking and finding the right growers proved more challenging than initially planned.

That said, full-scale cannabis legalization is the intended goal, according to the Dutch government.

“Together with Minister [of Justice] Yesilgoz-Zegerius, I am committed to making the cannabis experiment successful. I also sense enthusiasm among all participants and am therefore pleased that we can take a first smaller step here even before the official start of the experiment,” Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said in a press statement.

Observers expect the government to begin the pilot program later this year. It will also only involve the regions of Tilburg and Breda, where the Dutch have chosen three cannabis farmers to supply cannabis to the local coffeeshops.

The coffeeshops will still be able to purchase from their current “illicit” suppliers and the legal growers.

The pilot program will conclude in 2024. The Dutch government says it will evaluate the results and determine whether they should expand the legal supply nationwide.

Details of the Pilot Program 

Netherlands to Launch Cannabis Pilot Program

Legal cannabis in the Netherlands must comply with labelling and packaging requirements. However, there will be no THC limits.

Retailers and producers are also free to set and follow market prices. This is important because bad economics is killing the legal Canadian cannabis industry.

Ironically enough, the city of Amsterdam will not participate in the cannabis pilot program. The city council first said they didn’t have an interest. Now they want to be a part of it.

The city seems to be shooting itself in the foot lately.

The city council also banned outdoor cannabis smoking in the city’s famous Red Light District. The ban takes effect in May of this year.

Residents and tourists can still smoke in the coffeeshops.

The Dutch aren’t alone in their interest in legalizing cannabis. German legalization seems as inevitable as the US moving toward a federal legal regime. 

As well, Switzerland has launched a similar cannabis pilot program.

The Czech Republic, where a robust grey market already exists, is also interested in cannabis legalization.