A selected grower's thoughts

Two years behind schedule: is the Dutch coffee shop experiment ever going to take off?

The legally cultivated adult-use cannabis should have been in Dutch coffee shops two years ago. Today, it is still not available. Is the Dutch coffee shop experiment ever going to take off?

Bart Vollenberg of Aardachtig shows his facility in a recent episode of EenVandaag. "I look forward to the moment we can get our first cannabis tested by the buyers of the coffee shops." Bart is one of the ten chosen growers who is allowed to join the Dutch government experiment. At the company's secret location, they want to grow 10-15 varieties of adult-use cannabis in a sustainable manner next year. However, the production has not yet started due to the delays.

First of all, why is the Dutch experiment necessary? Selling adult-use cannabis in Dutch coffee shops is tolerated, while the cultivation is still illegal. As a result, coffee shops are dependent on the illegal market for their products. Therefore, the government has initiated an experiment to regulate the licensed cultivation of cannabis.

Ten growers are selected to legally supply coffee shops in ten municipalities. But the first legal product should have been available two years ago. Yet the project keeps on running into delays. One reason is that growers first have to be screened to determine whether or not they have ties with the illegal market. Bart explains that the amount of paperwork they had to do was much larger than expected. "We were told we had to wait 6-8 weeks for the paperwork to be processed, but in reality, growers had to wait up to 9 months."

When the growers finally get approved, it turns out they don't have a location, the financial means, or the industry knowledge that is necessary and were still unable to make it through. The result: more delays. One major challenge is that seven of the ten growers are unable to open a bank account. Bart explains: "This makes things extremely difficult. You've made a plan, and investors would love to work with you, but they need a place to deposit their money. Without a bank account, that's not possible."

Despite all the delays, the grower wants to remain positive. He does say, laughing, that he would be "ashamed" if Germany had legal cannabis before The Netherlands.

To view the full episode (in Dutch), click here.   

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