Dutch "coffee shops" to stock licensed Cannabis in trial

Dutch "coffee shops" to stock licensed Cannabis in trial

BREDA - The Netherlands will trial licensing cannabis growers for its famous "coffee shops" where smoking the drug is authorised, tackling a contradiction whereby selling is legal but supplying isn't, which has fed an illegal market dominated by criminal organisations.

Local mayors hope legalizing cannabis production will close this black market.

The trial will first take place Tilburg and Breda, two neighbouring cities in the south of The Netherlands, and then in other Dutch cities as well.

"It's very important that we take a next step in our cannabis policy", Breda mayor Paul Depla told Reuters. "With the experiment we get rid of the illegal backdoor to coffee shops."

The trials in Breda and Tilburg are part of what the Dutch government has dubbed a "start-up phase" of a new cannabis policy that would see cannabis production legalised in the whole country. The government hopes the small-scale trial licensing some farmers can iron out any hiccups in the new policy.

The ban on cannabis production also meant there was no clarity about how it was being produced, raising public health concerns, Depla said.

"I think (the trial) is a very good thing. We have been working on this experiment for more than 10 years.", Rick Brand, owner of Breda coffee shop De Baron said, adding he regrets that his country, known to be a frontrunner on liberal policies, stalled when it came to legalising cannabis production.

"It's about time that cannabis becomes 100% legal in The Netherlands."

Brand said that for the customer it will mean the drug will be purer and therefore healthier, there will be more varieties, and it will be cheaper.

"If you get cannabis from a coffee shop, it would be better to have (the production) regularised and legalised", 24-year-old recreational cannabis user Stijn said.

Breda mayor Depla said the trial might come with economic benefits as well, but stressed closing an illegal market and health transparency are most important.

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Region: Netherlands

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