Cannabis Pilot Program Delayed Until At Least 2024 In The Netherlands

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Historically, the Netherlands served as the international leader when it came to cannabis in many ways, particularly Amsterdam. It was no secret that people flocked from all over the globe over the course of many years to partake in coffeeshop cannabis offerings.

Had the Netherlands embraced cannabis more in recent years, it would have made it nearly impossible for any other country to take its title, and the country would be reaping the economic benefits from a booming cannabis industry. However, that is not the case.

While cannabis reform has spread to other countries, including in Europe, the Netherlands has not experienced similar activity. If anything, attempts were made to limit cannabis commerce, although unregulated cannabis sales still thrive throughout the country, especially in Amsterdam.

The Netherlands was set to launch a cannabis commerce pilot program, similar to what is being pursued in Switzerland and Denmark. Unfortunately, the launch of the pilot program has experienced several delays, and it appears the delays will continue to pile up. Per NL Times:

Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said that the experiment in regulated cultivated cannabis will be postponed again. He expects that “as it stands now” only legally produced cannabis will be able to be sold in coffeeshops in eleven municipalities in 2024, and that it is not possible to launch the project during the second quarter of 2023 as previously announced. He does want to try to begin with a “start-up phase” in a smaller number of municipalities.

According to the minister, the implementation of the cannabis experiment is “extremely complicated” and he understood that to be the reason why it has been postponed several times. The first hurdle is the paperwork: arranging locations, obtaining permits and arranging a banking license has turned out to be very complex.

A cannabis pilot program involves allowing local jurisdictions to permit limited adult-use cannabis commerce with the goal of collecting information and data at the local level to give national lawmakers more insight when crafting national laws and regulations.

Of course, an adult-use cannabis legalization pilot program is only useful if it actually launches. At this point, even 2024 doesn’t seem certain for a program launch in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, the push for national legalization continues elsewhere. It will be interesting to see what the cannabis policy landscape looks like in Europe by 2024.

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