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Phase One of Legal Cannabis Experiment in the Netherlands

Phase One of Legal Cannabis Experiment in the Netherlands to Commence in Breda and Tilburg on December 15, 2023

On September 15, 2023, the Dutch government announced the commencement of the preparatory phase of the closed cannabis shop chain experiment, set to begin on December 15, 2023. The latest schedule indicates that by the fourth quarter of 2023, two legal growers are expected to be ready for supplying to cannabis shops, providing a sufficient foundation to initiate the preliminary phase in Breda and Tilburg. During this phase, participating cannabis shops in these municipalities will be allowed to offer both legally grown and tolerated products. Subsequently, the following two growers are anticipated to commence supplying to cannabis shops in Breda and Tilburg in February 2024.

The initiative for the preparatory phase was introduced by the mayors of Breda and Tilburg and embraced as an opportunity by Minister Ernst Kuipers of Health, Welfare, and Sport, and Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius of Justice and Security to commence the experiment surrounding a legalized production and sales chain on a small scale. This allows them to gain experience with the closed system and all associated processes.

The developments during this phase will be closely monitored, and if public order or safety is severely compromised, the preparatory phase will be terminated prematurely. Insights will be shared with all participating municipalities and used to enhance processes and systems for a smooth transition phase. Start of Transition Phase: The aim is for the preparatory phase to last a maximum of six months, followed by a transition phase. It is expected that, at the earliest, all participating municipalities can begin the transition phase by the end of the first quarter of 2024. During this transition phase, cannabis shops in participating municipalities may offer regulated products alongside tolerated products. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the growers' schedules, it is challenging to provide clarity on the actual start of the transition phase at this time. Ministers Kuipers and Yeşilgöz-Zegerius will inform the Dutch House of Representatives at a later date. Six weeks after the commencement of the transition phase, the actual experimental phase will begin. Participating cannabis shop owners may only sell regulated cannabis from that point onward.

Participation of Amsterdam District: Previously, the possibility of an eleventh municipality participating in the experiment was discussed. Mayor Halsema of Amsterdam has nominated the Oost district for this purpose. The ministries of Health, Welfare, and Sport, and Justice and Security are examining this nomination and conducting discussions to further explore it. To enable the participation of the eleventh city, amendments must be made to the Law and the Closed Cannabis Shop Chain Experiment Decree. The proposal for this is currently before the Dutch House of Representatives for consideration.

Conclusion: The Dutch government's decision to launch the preparatory phase of the cannabis experiment on December 15, 2023, marks a significant step in the country's journey towards a regulated cannabis production and sales chain. The phased approach, with rigorous monitoring, reflects the government's commitment to ensuring a smooth transition into the experiment. Additionally, the potential inclusion of an eleventh municipality demonstrates the evolving landscape of cannabis regulation in the Netherlands, with further updates expected in the coming months.

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