The Dutch government’s long-awaited legal cannabis experiment will kick off in Tilburg and Breda on December 15 when two licenced growers start supplying the cities’ cannabis cafes, or coffee shops.
Health minister Ernst Kuipers had said three growers would take part in the first phase of the project, but one will not be ready in time, he told MPs in a briefing on Friday.
The two cities’ cannabis cafes will be able to continue buying from their current illegal sources in this first phase but that situation will end after six weeks. Then only licenced growers will supply the stores, offering a wide range of different products.
Two more growers will join the experiment in February, Kuipers said.
In total, 10 producers have been licenced to grow marijuana and produce hashish for the 10 cities taking part. Amsterdam has also applied for coffee shops in the capital’s district of Oost to be included in the project but talks on that are still ongoing.
The wietexperiment was first approved by the senate in 2019 after several years but has since stalled for a variety of reasons. Banks have also been reluctant to support the growers because of ‘their responsibilities in legislation to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism,’ officials said earlier.
Cannabis cafes, known euphemistically as coffee shops, are licenced by local councils but have to buy on the illegal circuit. The experiment aims to remove the gray area while cutting back on nuisance and crime.
The legal weed experiment is mentioned in several manifestos for the November general election. The VVD and BBB have said the project should not be expanded until the first trials have been evaluated.
The CDA and CU say cannabis cafes should not be legalized and the CU wants the experiment halted immediately. Most of the other parties are pro some form of legalization, broadcaster NOS said.
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