A trial scheme will see regulated cannabis producers supply Dutch cannabis cafés in a bid to cripple the black market.
Cannabis has been decriminalised in the Netherlands since the 1970s and small amounts of the drug can be sold in licensed coffee shops – but producing it remains illegal.
Cannabis advocates have claimed the existing situation is nonsensical as legal café owners are forced to rely on criminals for their supply.
The aim is to regulate cannabis supply through approved growers and free up police time spent busting illegal cannabis suppliers.
The four-year experiment begins in 2021 and cafés in 10 cities will get a legal supply of “quality” cannabis as part of a four-year experiment, reports the BBC.
“Imagine that milk is [accepted], but cows are strictly prohibited and hunted down by the police.”Cannabis advocate Derrick Bergman
The cities chosen for the scheme are Arnhem, Almere, Breda, Groningen, Heerlen, Hellevoetsluis, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Tilburg, and Zaanstad.
Coffee shops in these towns will be forced to buy from regulated growers. These cities will be compared to others not in the scheme to see if the effects are positive.
But Derrick Bergman, chairman of cannabis advocacy group VOC (Union for the Abolition of Cannabis Prohibition), blasted the measure as “way too little, way too late”.
He told the BBC: “(Cannabis) coffee shops have been around since 1976, the government should have acted before to stop the problems we see today – the criminality and lack of quality control.
“The four coalition parties are at odds, Christian parties want a total ban, liberals want total legalisation.
“In the long run, it will hopefully lead to a more sensible, pragmatic approach across the country.”
In a previous criticism of the status quo, he said: “Imagine that milk is [accepted], but cows are strictly prohibited and hunted down by the police.”