Dutch municipalities rushing to join regulated cannabis experiment

A total of 25 municipalities have signed up so far to take part in the Rutte III government's experiment with regulated cannabis cultivation, NOS reports. The government wants to start the experiment next year by letting eight to ten municipalities regulate the marijuana cultivation for their regions. 

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb already stated that he was one of the first mayors to talk to Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security about taking part in the experiment. Rotterdam has a 'municipal weed' plan ready to go, which does not only change how cannabis is produced, but also how it is distributed.  "The question is whether the phenomenon coffeeshop will still be needed in the future", Aboutaleb said earlier this month. He thinks other forms of distribution will be better. "Order online, and then get it delivered by bona fide package deliverers. Or through a vending machine."

The D66 in Cuijk also hopes that the Noord-Brabant town will be one of the participants, though there is still opposition from the local CDA faction, D66 councilor Rolf Asbroek said to NOS. If it is up to him, there will soon be a large cannabis complex next to the A73. "I want to put everything there. From research to production and from packaging to distribution", he said, also acknowledging that this plan is "more of a dot on the horizon". 

Mayor Paul Depla of Breda is pleased that so many municipalities are showing interest in the experiment, even though there's only limited space, he said according to broadcaster NOS. Depla was one of the initiators of the "weed manifesto" in 2014. Dozens of municipalities signed the document, which stated that cultivated production is the solution to the problems with the Netherlands' soft drugs policy. 

"Everyone can see that the current policy is bankrupt. Buying and selling is allowed, but how it comes to the coffeeshops is a mystery", Depla said, according to NOS. He calls it dangerous, not knowing how the cannabis is cultivated. "We do not know how the stuff in our coffeeshops is made. That's a big probem."

He is therefore happy that the experiment will easily fill its available spots. "I want to experiment with as many models as possible, so we can choose which one is best for regulated weed cultivation."

Which municipalities will be chosen for the experiment, will be announced in the course of next year.