The Netherlands will try out licensing cannabis growers for its famous “coffee shops” where patrons are allowed to smoke the weed.
This will tackle a contradiction in which selling is legal but supplying isn’t — feeding an illegal market dominated by criminal groups. Municipalities hope that legalising cannabis production will close this black market.
Trial runs will take place first in Tilburg and Breda, neighbouring cities in the south of the country, and then in other Dutch cities.
“It’s very important that we take a next step in our cannabis policy,” said Breda mayor Paul Depla. “With the experiment we get rid of the illegal backdoor to coffee shops.”
The trials in Breda and Tilburg are part of what the Dutch government calls a “start-up phase” of a new cannabis policy for production to be legalised in the whole country. The government hopes the small-scale trial licensing some farmers can iron out any hiccups in the new policy.
The ban on cannabis production also meant there was no clarity about how it was being produced, raising public health concern, said Depla.
“I think (the trial) is a very good thing. We have been working on this experiment for more than 10 years.” Rick Brand, owner of Breda coffee shop De Baron said. He regrets that his country, a liberal frontrunner, stalled when it came to legalising cannabis production.
“It’s about time that cannabis becomes 100% legal in the Netherlands.”
Brand said that for the customer it will mean the drug will be purer and healthier, there will be more varieties, and it will be cheaper.
“If you get cannabis from a coffee shop, it would be better to have (the production) regularised and legalised,” 24-year-old recreational cannabis user Stijn said.
Breda mayor Depla said the trial might bring economic benefits too, but emphasised that closing an illegal market and health transparency are most important.
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