In the Netherlands, you can smoke weed but you can’t grow it. That's About to Change.
If you were asked to name a few of the most cannabis-friendly countries in the world, chances are the Netherlands would be at the top of that list. What not everyone realizes is that the Netherlands’ progressivism doesn’t extend to the production of marijuana. While recreational use has long been decriminalized, the Dutch government prohibits cannabis cultivation and it brings the hammer down on those caught illegally growing or processing weed.
That’s about to change. Thanks to reforms that took place in 2017, Dutch cities are now experimenting with a more open system.
Called the “weed test” locally, the experiment will work as follows. Each city will only permit the sale of cannabis products that come from officially approved cannabis growers within the Netherlands. The participating cities’ coffeeshops will thus only be allowed to stock weed that has been monitored and tested by officially designated local laboratories, and sold with accurate labelling of its levels of THC.
The weed test doesn’t include Amsterdam: It’s restricted to medium-sized cities that are large enough to support coffeeshops, but small enough to make enforcement easy. The cities in the trial range from 38,000 residents to over 200,000, and include the cities of Groningen, Arnhem, and Breda. It will also take some time to get things going: The process of finding and approving growers means this official cannabis may not hit the market until 2021.
By finding a way to bring this trade fully above ground, the trial could still ultimately provide a template for other cities and states grappling with the quasi-legal status of cannabis. That, however, is only if the trial really works.
Ten cities will participate in the pilot program. And many say it can’t get started soon enough.
As one local politician told Dutch newspaper Het Parool, “the current situation, where you can legally buy weed in a coffee shop but can’t supply it legally, is crooked. ”