Up to ten Dutch municipalities could begin a “weed experiment” that would allow cannabis that has been tested for quality and grown legally to be sold in so-called “coffee shops,” according to the Dutch health ministry.
Currently, the Netherlands has a tolerance policy for the drug, in which the production, supply and distribution of cannabis is illegal but coffee shops are not prosecuted for selling it. This means coffee shops purchase cannabis illegally, and its quality is often unknown.
There are currently 573 coffee shops in 103 municipalities in the Netherlands that operate under this tolerance policy, according to the ministry.
“The experiment must make clear whether it is possible to legally provide coffee shops with quality-controlled hemp in a closed coffee shop chain,” the ministry wrote.
The Dutch government is proposing the experiment to see how legal weed affects crime and public health. Researchers will monitor and release an assessment on the experiment after four years.
The bill, proposed by the government, is now being considered by the nation’s upper house of parliament.
The experiment would include six to 10 municipalities to participate, while 26 municipalities have told the government they are interested.
The mayor of the Dutch town Breda told Dutch public broadcaster NOS that he hopes his municipality will be chosen so it can move away from a “half-hearted tolerance policy” that requires coffee shops to rely on an illegal market that is “dominated by criminals.”
“It’s almost the same as being allowed to buy beer in a cafe, but not being brewed,” Breda mayor Paul Depla said. “An illegal brewery would be set up tomorrow.”