Sunday 22 May 2022

Regulated marijuana trials in trouble: councils unhappy with proposal

A potted cannabis seedling. Photo: Charlotte Lake via

Many of the Dutch local authorities which had hoped to become involved in the government’s regulated marijuana cultivation trials are not at all happy with the plans.

The experiment with regulated growing is supposed to remove the gray area between the sale of marijuana in council-licenced coffee shops and the illegal cultivation and supply.

However, there are so many problems with the proposals that the Dutch local authorities association VNG says it will now be difficult to find 10 councils which want to take part, Trouw reported on Friday.

The cabinet published the finalised plans last week and the VNG said at the time that it was disappointed. In particular, there is little room for councils to tailor-make solutions to fit their own localities and the conditions for participation have a lot of ‘practical bottlenecks’, the VNG said.

The VNG’s main issue is with the four year trial period, which will not be extended, even if the experiment is successful.

This means that coffee shop owners will be forced back into the illegal circuit after four years of selling ‘legal’ marijuana and that is ‘immoral,’ Breda mayor Paul Depla told Trouw.

Others object to the requirement that all coffee shops within a council area take part in the scheme. Depla says many officials would prefer to have more legal instrument to tackle coffee shops that don’t cooperate instead.

And local councils are also opposed to the ban on serving foreign nationals, which they say will boost the illegal cross-border trade.


Local councils have until December 24 to brief ministers on their objections.

This summer, the government’s highest advisory body, the Council of State, also criticised the plans, saying the experiment should be bigger than the government has determined.

The Council of State, which points out the experiment conflicts with European law and United Nations’ treaties, states that the trial must be ‘useful, believable and scientific’ to have any merit.

More councils

But the experiment as now planned – with just six to 10 councils taking part over a four year period – will not be big enough to allow useful conclusions to be drawn, the council said.

And earlier this year, the special government commission set up to look at the plans also said the government proposals are too rigid and not wide enough.

In particular, the growers selected for the trials should be capable of meeting high standards and growing a variety of different types of weed – at least 15 types of marijuana and 10 different varieties of hashish, the commission said.

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