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NETHERLANDS - 2006/12/30: The Netherlands is to officially launch its pilot program to legalize the sale of adult-use cannabis in the country in December. The program aims to assess whether coffee shops in the participating municipalities will receive authorization to legally sell cannabis. As announced in February, the Netherlands is to launch a pilot program to explore the legal sale of cannabis. This initiative, which has experienced multiple delays since receiving Senate approval in 2019, has now been officially confirmed by the Dutch government to start on December 15. The pilot program will involve the participation of the cities of Breda and Tilburg, where selected coffee shops from these municipalities will be initially allowed to sell both legally grown and 'tolerated' cannabis products. In fact, unlike what many may think, the Netherlands has never legalized cannabis. However, since the 1970s, the country has implemented a tolerance policy toward so-called "soft drugs" like cannabis, a policy known as "gedoogbeleid." This policy allows cannabis sellers to operate their businesses without the fear of prosecution and has led to the proliferation of coffee shops throughout the country.
In the initial phase of the plan, coffee shops in Breda and Tilburg will receive their cannabis from two official cannabis growers.
During the first six weeks of the program, coffee shops will be allowed to obtain cannabis supplies from their existing illegal market suppliers as they transition out while the new legal suppliers are phased in. By signing up, you accept and agree to our Terms of Service (including the class action waiver and arbitration provisions), and Privacy Statement.
Developments in the start-up phase will be monitored, and if there are significant concerns regarding public safety or order, the program might conclude prematurely. Furthermore, the assessment of the pilot program will be shared with all other participating cities to enhance processes and systems for a smoother transition phase. The announcement of the pilot program to legalize the sale of cannabis products comes after Amsterdam imposed certain restrictions on consuming cannabis in public spaces in order to prevent noisy tourism.
The Netherlands is to become the second European country to launch a pilot program on the sale of legal adult-use cannabis and the first within the EU member states.
The pilot program model, designed to assess the advantages and disadvantages of adult-use legalization, was launched by Switzerland (which is not part of the EU) last year and is currently active in several cities.
The launch of the pilot program is significant for both the Netherlands and the EU. The tolerance policy in the Netherlands has faced criticism over the years. This policy has led to a situation where organized crime groups engaged in illegal drug trafficking have been allowed to supply and become the primary source of larger quantities of cannabis and other drugs.
Therefore, the potential legalization of cannabis sales in the Netherlands may significantly impact the cannabis industry in the country through increased tax revenues, improved product quality, and possible investments.
From the European perspective, the pilot-program model may represent a smooth strategy for other European countries that aim to legalize cannabis. This will be part of the legalization process in Germany, whose government has recently approved the bill to legalize possession, cultivation, and the establishment of cannabis social clubs in the country, and it may be implemented soon.
However, European laws and international treaties still prevent countries from legalizing the sale of cannabis. Therefore, if the Netherlands pursues legalization, it will have to engage with the EU Commission to ensure that the proposed law aligns with international and EU regulations.