Two activist entrepreneurs from the Netherlands, with roots in the cannabis industry reaching back to the early 1990s, have announced a partnership agreement ahead of the Dutch Coffeeshop Experiment.
Amsterdam's Paradise Seeds has been confirmed as an official genetics partner of Holigram, a fully Dutch-owned and operated Licensed Producer and one of 10 LPs selected by the Netherlands government to supply coffeeshops with a legal supply of recreational cannabis in a national trial which will roll out in 2024.
Paradise will supply Holigram with 'homegrown' genetics from the Netherlands, such as Dutch Dragon, Jacky White, and Wappa, as well as on-trend varieties. Holigram, the only authorized producer of Paradise Seeds genetics in the 'experiment,' is focused on cultivating high-quality organic cannabis on a large scale in a hi-tech 8000m² production facility.
Jetze de Raad breaks ground on new Holigram facility
"Partnership combines Dutch cannabis pioneers"
The announcement sees the coming together of two personalities who have been involved in the Dutch cannabis industry since the early 1990s. Between them, they contributed to the development of the industry in the genetics and nutrient sectors.
Patrick Stevens, Holigram's head of sales, describes the announcement as a coming together of two key players in the history of the Dutch cannabis industry: Luc Krol, the owner of genetics seed bank Paradise Seeds, and Jetze de Raad, the founder of Biobizz fertilizer, and now heading up the Dutch LP Holigram.
"For three decades, Jetze and Luc have been running Dutch companies that have pioneered huge changes in the cannabis industry. So it is fantastic, and very fitting, that their paths finally cross and they come together in this Dutch legal experiment."
Luc Krol is the founder of Paradise Seeds, a breeder-owned cannabis genetics seed bank which celebrates its 30th anniversary next year. He also set up the Medical Cannabis Bike Tour Foundation, which is currently funding a clinical trial investigating medical cannabis as a cancer treatment in Spain.
Jetze de Raad founded the organic fertilizer company Biobizz in 1992. In 2015, he set up Laboraad, a research lab and consultancy pursuing innovations in sustainability in the horticulture and agriculture sector. A long-term advocate of a legal cannabis supply chain in the Netherlands, he set up Holigram, which received a Dutch coffeeshop Experiment license in 20121.
Jetze's entrepreneurial history informs Holigram's focus on sustainability. The cannabis will be 100% organic, and the cultivation facility has been built to enhance this approach. The building is (natural) gas-free, uses solar panels and energy-saving LEDs, and has a water recycling system. "Paradise's organically produced genetics are a natural fit."
Luc Krol in the Paradise Seeds breeding rooms
Dutch Coffeeshop Experiment – From 'back door' to official supply chain
The Dutch Coffeeshop Experiment is a government-backed trial which aims to find a solution to the eternal Dutch coffeeshop conundrum known as the 'back door' supply chain. Licensed coffeeshops are allowed to sell cannabis products, but contrary to popular belief, cannabis is not officially legal in Holland.
Taking a 'tolerance' approach, authorities have traditionally turned a blind eye to how the coffeeshops get their cannabis supply (i.e., it mysteriously arrives at the back door). Critics allege this supply chain system is open to abuse by organized crime, and an unregulated market has consequences for consumers too. While some coffeeshops operate their own system to test product quality, the lack of a universal system means that many consumers have no idea of the integrity of the product they purchase.
Over the past two decades, cannabis activists, with gathering support from local and national politicians and law enforcement officials, successfully influenced the Dutch parliament to launch the Dutch Coffeeshop Experiment. It was given the green light in 2017 by the incoming government with the aim of establishing a regulated 'front door' supply system. The 'experiment' was the result of a compromise between those political parties vehemently opposed and those strongly in favor of legalization.
It is set to be trialed in 11 municipalities across the country, which are home to 83 coffeeshops. Ten LPs have been selected as the official suppliers of cannabis products - cannabis flower, hash, pre-rolled joints, and edibles – and the coffeeshops must purchase from these LPs.
"The coffeeshops are free to choose which LPs they buy their products from," Patrick explains. Inevitably, there was initial resistance as many coffeeshops had suppliers they had worked with for many years, and they were skeptical about buying through a 'government' supply chain of approved LPs.
However, attitudes have changed as they realized that LPs, such as Holigram, involve people who have established reputations in the Dutch cannabis industry. This has brought reassurance, and most coffeeshops can see the benefits that a legal supply chain will bring in terms of being able to do business out of the shadows and receive a safe and consistent supply of cannabis."
He also points out the benefits for consumers and says that the experiment is an opportunity for Holigram to provide people with a clean and honest product that is 100% organic. "For the first time, the consumer will know exactly what they are buying and have reassurances about the safety and quality of the product."
The nature of the Dutch Cannabis Experiment will also ensure the consumer receives a regulated product from the LPs supplying coffeeshops. Cannabis will be tested in government-approved labs for contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, and mold (as well as monitoring cannabinoid and terpenoid levels). A track and trace system will also ensure the integrity of the supply chain.
Tried and tested genetics
Patrick explains that the appeal of using Paradise Seeds genetics is the reliability of cannabis varieties, which have been stabilized over many years, providing consistency of product in cultivation and end-use consumer experience.
While Paradise also provides newer strains reflecting the 'Californian weed' trend, the presence of 'classic' genetics such as Wappa, Dutch Dragon, and Original White Widow in crosses with popular Gelato and Cookies US varieties brings extra stability. "The best of both worlds!" says Patrick.
Luc Krol says, "Paradise Seeds was really born out of the Amsterdam coffeeshop scene in the 1990s. They were where I would swap seeds with travelers coming from Asia and America to build my collection so I could develop early Paradise Seeds genetic varieties."
"They were also places where the end product would be tested, and the feedback persuaded me to focus on breeding full-time. So it is great that Paradise Seeds varieties will be back in the coffeeshops again. It is also a privilege to be working with Holigram. Obviously, Jetze and I go back many years and have seen the industry change dramatically. To be a part of this legal initiative in our own backyard of the Netherlands is very exciting."
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