Amsterdam wants one of its city districts to join national cannabis cultivation trial
Amsterdam put forward the city district of Amsterdam-Oost to participate in the national experiment to regulate the cannabis supply chain for coffeeshops, the municipality announced on Wednesday.
The national project aims to assess the feasibility of legalizing the production, distribution, and sale of cannabis. While the Netherlands tolerates the sale of cannabis in coffeeshops, its production and supply are still considered illegal. This so-called “tolerance policy” leads to coffeeshops purchasing wholesale cannabis through illegal means via the back door, a situation that carries implications for crime, safety, and public health.
Throughout the duration of the trial, coffeeshops will sell regulated, quality-controlled cannabis produced by selected growers. The experiment is expected to start in the first quarter of 2024 and run for 4 to 5.5 years.
The Amsterdam mayor and the coalition of aldermen argued that it was important for the city of Amsterdam to be included in the experiment, as “the results of the experiment may eventually lead to changes in the tolerance policy, which may greatly affect the coffeeshops and cannabis market in Amsterdam." Later this year, the municipality plans to start discussions with the coffeeshops located in Amsterdam-Oost about the future of the process.
Amsterdam previously expressed interest in participating in the trial, but it turned out to be impossible due to the large number of coffee shops in the city (166). The Cabinet recently decided to allow city districts to participate. With more than 100,000 inhabitants and 10 coffeee shops, Amsterdam-Oost now meets the conditions to participate in the experiment.
The Ministers of Justice and Security and Health, Welfare, and Sport will have to decide whether the Amsterdam-Oost district can be included in the experiment. The other municipalities set to participate in the trial are Groningen, Almere, Arnhem, Nijmegen, Zaanstad, Hellevoetsluis, Breda, Tilburg, Maastricht and Heerlen.
National politicians have discussed a regulated cannabis experiment for over ten years. The national project has faced numerous delays over the years after first garnering majority support in Parliament in 2016. Initially, the trial project was to start in the autumn of 2021, but it has been postponed several times.
Health Minister Ernst Kuipers attributed this to the complexities of the regulation but also emphasized the need for a great diversity in the types of cannabis supplied to coffeeshops. He also stressed the importance of maintaining consistently high quality and ensuring a steady supply.