maximum 10 growers

Netherlands presents rules for legalised cannabis growing experiment

The Dutch cannabis industry has been a paradox for decades. Recreational cannabis can be sold in coffeeshops and for consumers it's not illegal to buy it there - but growing cannabis for these outlets is illegal. Yesterday the government announced the rules of an experiment with legalised cannabis growing. 

In the Netherlands, the use of recreational cannabis is not legalized, but it is tolerated, meaning that there is no active law enforcement against it. In coffee shops, cannabis can be sold to consumers. However, coffeeshops are not allowed to have over 500 grams of cannabis in stock. Also, since it's not allowed for individuals to carry over 5 gram of cannabis or to possess more than 5 hemp plants, the supply of the coffeeshops is an issue, thus urging the coffee shop holders to resort to the black market to acquire their products. Over the last years, more and more municipalities have spoken out against these rules, asking for decriminalisation. 

Last year the Dutch government announced an experiment with legalising the 'closed chain of cannabis' for the coffeeshops. Yesterday the rules were made public. During the experiment, which will last for four years minimum and 5,5 years maximum, a minimum of six and a maximum of ten municipalities will be supplied by quality checked hemp grown by up to ten licensed producers. 

These ten growers have to sell all their produce to the coffeeshops in the participating municipalities. At the same time all coffeeshops in the ten municipalities have to participate. This is to research the difference in the various method and would show the possibility of banning crime. However the location of the farm is independent of the municipality - a grower joining in the experiment does not necessarily have to be established in a municipality that participates in the experiment and, conversely, a municipality with a designated grower does not count as a participating municipality . 

Grower requirements
Someone willing to participate as a grower in the experiment must be appointed by the ministers. For this, the grower submits an application to the government. Both a private person and a legal person can submit an application. In both cases, the applications must be located in the Netherlands, just like the (intended) cultivation location. 

A grower doesn't need to have a growing location when the application is submitted. The grower must, however, state in the application where he intends to grow. A grower must also have checked what is involved when starting a cultivation company in that location. Mayors are given an important voice in this, because if they find public order and safety at stake, they can give a negative opinion.

When assessing an application, the business plan is considered, among other things. An application is rejected, among other things, if the grower has not made it plausible in the business plan she is able to grow hemp under controlled conditions. A rejection also takes place if the grower has not made it plausible that she can provide enough supply and a consistent delivery to the coffee-shop holders.

After the participating municipalities have been designated, an evaluation can be made of the amount of hemp that is needed within the closed chain. Based on these numbers the production volume for the selected growers will be assigned. The coffeeshops will not be kept to the current maximums trade stock of 500 grams cannabis. 

It is expected that a margin of up to one week of trading stock will be used in the experiment. In any case, growers must make it plausible that they can produce the required amount at the start of the experiment.

No maximum or minimum content of active substances
During the experiment, no maximum or minimum will be set for the content of active substances, THC and CBD. The grower will have to have his cannabis tested and of course the product must be free of heavy metals, plant protection products and aflatoxin.

Read all rules (in Dutch) here.

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