The chilled out and progressive Dutch are putting into place new laws that will protect cannabis-selling coffee shops owners.
By allowing fully legal cannabis grows under licence, the new laws will finally close the loophole that has, over the years, seen coffee shop owners prosecuted for supplying cannabis through their licensed cannabis cafes.
The move to regulate the supply of coffee shop cannabis will take business away from the black market, which could result in an increase in safety and quality of the final product – similar to how Californian growers have raised the standard of high-grade cannabis following recreational cannabis legalisation.
I thought cannabis was legal in Holland…
Whilst the Netherlands does have an incredibly open cannabis policy that attracts many canna-tourists, the way the cannabis actually makes its way into the coffee shops has always been a bit of a dark secret.
You see, while coffee shops are tolerated by the authorities, cannabis itself is not actually legal in any way. And that means the stock sold in coffee shops is 100% supplied by the black market.
Taxes are collected on sales to customers, but there is no way to tax the main product if it is coming in through the back door.
‘Local administrators have observed for a long time that this design of the current cannabis chain – with a ‘tolerated front door’ and an ‘illegal back door’ of coffee shops – creates problems for public order and safety and risks to public health’
With over 573 cannabis cafe across 103 municipalities, weed has become big business in The Netherlands. And it’s one which the Dutch authorities are very keen not to lose to the black market.
Supply of Cannabis Experiment
After a trial testing legal supply last October, Holland is now set to roll out a 4-year trial where local authorities will be responsible for licensing cannabis suppliers, who can legally supply their product to the coffee shops.
If the trial goes well, it will become the new way that cannabis is moved around the Netherlands.
As well as creating stability for coffee shop owners, it is hoped the move will make black market operations more difficult to carry out on a large scale.
The report ‘An experiment with closed cannabis chain’ report can be downloaded here.
The Netherland currently has a similar successful ‘closed chain’ supply for its medical cannabis program. By bringing that same organisation and regulation to their recreational cannabis program, more taxes for the government as well as more safety to coffee shop owners and visitors alike suggests this to be a win-win solution.
New Rules for Growers
In the new system, specific growing requirements will have to be met by potential suppliers.
In the Netherlands, the strict quality standards from the European Pharmacopeia apply to medical cannabis production and they expect similar regulation to be applied to the recreational cannabis supply market.
These will include:
1. Good Agricultural Practice (GAP). T
2. Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). The GMP sets specific rules about the conditions where a product is created, so if any issues are found the creator of it it can easily be found and systems modified if necessary.
As well as production, strict rules will apply for packaging.
The report takes note of developments in the US, stating that packaging should not be attractive to children, should be resealable and contain clear labelling of the product as well as CBD and THC content, as well as warnings.
Growers will need to pass reliability requirements along with a BIBOB screening (public integrity test) of all their company directors and all staff will need to have a VOG certificate of conduct – a Dutch certificate showing no criminal offences.
Will the weed get better?
Along with legally grown cannabis comes regulations and stringent practices to ensure the safety of the product.
In short – and depending on which companies are given licences – this could see an increase in the quality of the final product.
Just as a legal recreational market in California has led to ‘Cali weed‘ becoming renowned for its superior quality, the same could happen in Holland – a country which already knows a thing or two about cannabis cultivation.
Let’s hope so.