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Why Was Amsterdam Excluded from Dutch Experiment with Legal Cannabis

Amsterdam is excluded from a Dutch experiment on the controlled sale of legal cannabis, as the lower house of the Dutch parliament voted against its inclusion. The decision maintains the number of cities involved in the pilot at ten. The goal is to assess the impact of legal cannabis sales, curb illegal cultivation, and reduce criminal activities associated with the black market.




Amsterdam has been omitted from the list of Dutch cities selected for an experiment in the controlled sale of legal cannabis.

By a vote of 78 to 72, the lower house of the Dutch parliament rejected a request to include Amsterdam in the national experiment in growing and distributing cannabis, which means that the number of cities taking part in the pilot, which is scheduled to start in the summer, will remain at ten.

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The Dutch Parliament also rejected a request to stop the entire project

As part of the experiment, the Dutch government will, for the first time, license the legal cultivation and distribution of cannabis for adult use.

“The experiment will not make it easier for young people to access drugs. This only means that production and distribution will be taken out of the control of criminals,” said Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema in a statement to the NL Times.

For decades, the country’s cannabis dispensaries, known as coffee shops, operated under a system in which sales were legally tolerated but cultivation was prohibited. This meant that stores had to purchase black market cannabis and hashish from growers who were growing cannabis illegally.

Start of the experimental phase without Amsterdam

As part of an effort to assess the impact of legal sales of cannabis for adult use in the country, the Netherlands recently launched a controlled experiment involving the legal sale of cannabis products in specific cannabis stores located in selected municipalities.

The launch phase of the experiment, called “aanloopfase” in Dutch, began in December in the cities of Breda and Tilburg, where about 19 participating coffee shops began offering both legally grown and black market cannabis.

Six months after the start of the experiment, around mid-June, all participating stores will go through a transition period of approximately six weeks. After this period, stores will only be able to sell legal products.

Goals of the legal supply chain pilot program

One of the main reasons for implementing a system of controlled cultivation and distribution of cannabis products is the significant problem posed by illegal cultivation. This illegal activity has long been linked to a variety of criminal enterprises, including money laundering, underground banking and lending.

So the purpose of this experiment, in which coffee shops in 10 municipalities source their cannabis from authorized growers, is to assess whether regulation proves to be a more effective approach. Expected benefits include the availability of a top-quality product that meets quality standards and a reduction in criminal activity.

Other cities such as Almere, Arnhem, Groningen, Heerlen, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Voorne aan Zee (formerly known as Hellevoetsluis) and Zaanstad will also take part in the experiment, representing an important step towards understanding the social and economic impact of legalizing cannabis.

Legalization of cannabis in Europe

The experiment with cannabis sales in the Netherlands comes at a time when European countries are showing increasing interest in reforming their cannabis policies.

In late February, Germany took a significant step by legalizing cannabis for recreational use , becoming the third EU member state to do so, after Malta and Luxembourg. Berlin also plans to launch its own cannabis pilot program to experiment with controlled sales in the country.

Although Switzerland is not an EU member state, it recently launched its own controlled cannabis sales program, pioneering this approach to assessing the potential to reform cannabis policy in Europe, possibly towards legalization for recreational use.


(Featured image by Monlaw via Pixabay)

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Arturo Garcia started out as a political writer for a local newspaper in Peru, before covering big-league sports for national broadsheets. Eventually he began writing about innovative tech and business trends, which let him travel all over North and South America. Currently he is exploring the world of Bitcoin and cannabis, two hot commodities which he believes are poised to change history.