The Netherlands has long been an international leader when it comes to cannabis culture. For decades people have come from all over the globe to check out Dutch cafes where world-class cannabis is sold.

The cannabis policies in The Netherlands, and specifically Amsterdam, are often difficult for travelers to wrap their heads around. Under Dutch law, cannabis can be sold at licensed coffee shops, but cannabis is currently illegal to produce and supply to the shops.

So while shops can sell cannabis to consumers, many of them international tourists, acquiring the cannabis that they will eventually sell is not legal. All coffee shop owners currently obtain their cannabis from illegal sources. A new pilot program is exploring the idea of fixing that obvious policy discrepancy. Per BBC:

From 2021, cafes in 10 cities will get a legal supply of “quality” cannabis as part of a four-year experiment.

The “weed trials” are aimed at providing a controlled and legalised supply of cannabis, making the industry more transparent and testing whether that will free up police officers to focus on other crimes.

The cities chosen, and still to be approved, are: Arnhem, Almere, Breda, Groningen, Heerlen, Hellevoetsluis, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Tilburg and Zaanstad.

Cafes in the specified locations will be mandated to purchase wholesale cannabis from nationally approved cultivators, and will not be allowed to sell any cannabis at their cafes that originated from unregulated sources.

Larger cities such as The Hague, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam are not initially participating in the new public policy experiment due to the requirement that no cannabis sales occur involving unregulated cannabis. The world will be watching to see if the pilot program is a success, or if changes are made prior to the program going nationwide.

The experiment’s success will largely depend on the quality of the product that licensed national cultivators are producing, as well as the end price to the consumer. Those two factors are applicable in every cannabis market in which a regulated and unregulated industry operate in alongside each other.

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