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NL: Political party wants to pause adult-use cannabis experiment

A remarkable moment around midnight of Wednesday to Thursday in the Dutch Lower House: the PVV tabled a motion to put the closed coffeeshop chain experiment 'on hold' until a new cabinet took office. 'Impossible,' responded Breda mayor Paul Depla, one of the proponents of the so-called 'cannabis trial.' 'So the PVV is in favor of illegal weed.'

"Ridiculous action"
Actually, the debate was about a change to the experiment, namely the addition of an 11th municipality: Amsterdam and then, more specifically, district East. MP Ingrid Michon-Derkzen (VVD) has doubts about this expansion, as she fears the consequences if weed is supplied legally in one part of Amsterdam and not in another. PVV, CDA, SGP, and ChristenUnie are already not enthusiastic about the experiment per se, let alone an expansion. Diederik van Dijk (SGP) even tabled a motion to withdraw the private member's bill on the closed coffeeshop chain experiment, which is now before the Senate. D66 MP Joost Sneller called this a "ridiculous action."

Ten years
The start-up phase of the experiment to sell cannabis produced legally in coffee shops in ten municipalities started in Breda and Tilburg in late 2023 after a 3.5-year preparation phase. It was discussed in The Hague for more than a decade. 'It is no secret that we see this experiment as an important step towards legalization and better regulation of the coffee shop chain,' says Sneller. He wants the government to have insight into how cannabis is produced so that it is done responsibly, and he also hopes it will reduce crime.

Reliable government
But in the new Lower House, enthusiasm for the experiment is a lot less than in the old one. For Geert Wilders' party, this is even reason for MP René Claassen to table a motion to put the whole experiment "on hold" until there is a new coalition. It is still unclear how many parties support this motion. NSC MP Daniëlle Jansen has 'serious reservations' about extending the cannabis experiment but does not yet want to say whether she will support the motion. 'I'm still going to discuss that with my group.' But Medical Care Minister Pia Dijkstra (D66) left no room for misunderstanding. She 'strongly' advised against the motion, saying she expects growers to file 'damage claims of millions'. 'We as a reliable government cannot force them to stop their operations indefinitely.'

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