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Objection against the exclusion of participation was rejected

Dutch grower wasn't allowed to relocate again after entering cannabis growing trial

Last year, Supraleaf was excluded from taking part in the cannabis cultivation experiment in the Netherlands. The grower was included in the draw along with nine others. However, the company could not procure its intended location, so was excluded from participation, something to which the grower objected.

The Court of Justice in The Hague rendered its verdict on February 14. It declared the grower's objections to the Ministries of Health, Welfare and Sport and Justice and Security unfounded.

Failed land purchase
Supraleaf had three municipalities in mind (Hoorn, Breda, and Groningen) to establish a cultivation location. The company chose Groningen, but another grower also wanted to set up business there. The municipality ultimately opted for that grower, not Supraleaf.

Supraleaf then, with government permission, decided on Zwaag in the Hoorn district. However, negotiations on purchasing the needed plot failed because not all the selling party's shareholders agreed. That was after the draw.

Force majeure
Supraleaf, thus, pointed to a force majeure and feels it should still have the option to propose a new location. The grower argues it was "sufficiently certain" it could use the intended site in Zwaag. The company had a letter of intent from the municipality and the other operating company shareholders that owned the plot to be purchased.

The grower does not understand why the exception does not cover him since the situation is "the same as in the case of the [so-called] ceiling municipality." Here, the grower refers to Groningen, which two growers were considering, and where Supraleaf drew the short straw. In that case, the grower could still change the location.

New greenhouse
Supraleaf has found a third location, in Venhuizen, that includes a greenhouse. This new intended plot is nine kilometers from the one in Hoorn but in a different municipality (Drechterland).

The court agreed with the ministries the playing field must be kept level. It is, thus, not possible to switch municipalities after the draw. Changing an intended cultivation location is, according to the judge, "not of minor importance."

Since the municipality has to render new advice, this change does not warrant an exception. The court also rejected the force majeure appeal, saying the circumstance was "within the normal entrepreneurial risk." Growers can anticipate this risk by tendering for multiple locations in multiple municipalities.

This may be appealed.

Start of experiment
Last week, it was announced that growers in the municipalities of Tilburg and Breda should be able to start supplying legally grown cannabis to 'coffee shops' in the fourth quarter of this year. When at least three growers are ready, the experiment's much-delayed start-up phase will begin. Growers encountered all sorts of problems, including finding suitable locations and opening bank accounts.