The Dutch government has appointed 10 growers to participate in its Closed Coffeeshop Chain Experiment bringing to a close decades of turning a blind eye to cannabis cultivation.
But the experiment won’t yet include Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and the Hague, all of whom wanted to be participate, but were declined by the government.
Ten out of 20 municipalities were picked in the experiment which introduces the first legal cannabis cultivation in the Netherlands. They are Almere, Arnhem, Breda, Groningen, Heerlen, Hellevoetsluis, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Tilburg and Zaanstad.
Selected growers still have to pass ‘integrity test’
The selected growers have to pass an ‘integrity test’ before qualifying to supply the infamous Amsterdam ‘coffee shops’ and those in nine other jurisdictions. If they pass the test, they will then be allowed to grow recreational cannabis from February 2021. Although the coffee shops have by law been allowed to sell marijuana, current legislation has prohibited cultivation, which meant they relied on the black market.
The Dutch Public Health Ministry announced on 3 December 2020 that it chose the 10 from of a shortlist of 51. It was a matter of luck for the winners who made the grade in a random draw from the shortlist. Losers were relegated to the waiting list in case any of the 10 fail the integrity test.
Altogether 147 applications were received to participate in the experiment, which will allow regulated cannabis cultivation for the first time in the Netherlands. Among the selection criteria was scalability and professionalism
Once the experiment launches, the coffeeshops in those municipalities will only be able to sell cannabis grown by one of the government’s designated cultivators. The goal is to see what effect a regulated cannabis chain has on public safety.
Business as usual for Amsterdam, too big for the cannabis pilot project
Amsterdam fears incurring the wrath of illegal growers
Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema said the city accepted it was too big to be part of the pilot project as it had an estimated 170 coffee shops. She expressed concern that attempting to do away with all illegal cannabis suppliers in one go would either cause more violence and mayhem, or it would lead to coffeeshops making quiet “back door” agreements with the dealers.