Dutch cannabis producers are set to benefit from a long-awaited change in legislation which will see the country’s famous ‘coffee shops’ supplied with legally grown cannabis.
Whilst cannabis in Holland has been decriminalized since the 1970s, its cannabis cafes are supplied with illegally grown pot – as producing it remains illegal.
The authorities say over 550 coffee shops nationwide are forced to operate in a ‘grey area’, buying from a criminal supply chain.
However, from 2021, almost 80 cafes in 10 cities will get a legal supply of ‘quality’ cannabis as part of a four-year experiment.
Justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus and health minister Bruno Bruins said in a briefing to MPs that ‘Protecting consumer health and vulnerable groups is top priority, and the experiment will pay close attention to prevention and providing information’.
Paul Depla, mayor of one of the chosen cities in Breda, told The Telegraph that it was ‘high time’ the Netherlands sorted out inconsistent drug laws.
“After years of knocking against closed doors in The Hague, we can leave behind this half-baked tolerance policy…where the consumer knows absolutely nothing about the quality of the cannabis and how it is grown.”
Main Cities Excluded
However, the trial will not include the main cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, as it was was deemed ‘too difficult to get all their coffee shops on board’, reported the Telegraph.
Amsterdam has almost 170 cannabis cafes and Mayor Femke Halsema warned last year it would be dangerous if all those buyers abandoned their suppliers simultaneously, reports the BBC.
Holland’s current rules says that small amounts of up to five grams can be bought and sold for recreational use.
Like Switching From Wine To Whisky
The BBC reports that Willem, who runs the Toermalijn coffee shop in the city of Tilburg, said the implementation of quantity and quality control ‘would be great’.
“But if the government make us pay more, then our customers will be charged more, and then they’ll just go to the black market,” he added. However, some customers in his shop said the experiment failed to provide any solution for hashish – a cannabis resin.
“We don’t have the ability to produce the same quality. It’s like asking people to switch from wine to whisky,” one customer told the BBC.