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Government information for entrepreneurs

Sale of cannabis in coffeeshops

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

In the Netherlands, selling drugs is illegal. However, some city councils allow the sale of soft drugs in so-called coffeeshops. Their owners will not be prosecuted if their establishment meets strict requirements. When allowed, they usually require an operating permit for a catering establishment. Please note that different municipalities have different rules with regard to the sale of cannabis, many city councils do not allow coffeeshops at all.

At present, it is illegal to grow cannabis (hemp) plants intended for making soft drugs. This also applies to acts of preparation with regard to illegal hemp production. However, a trial with a closed supply chain has been announced (see below).

Residence criterion

Coffeeshop owners must always be able to determine that the person to whom they sell soft drugs, lives in the Netherlands and is 18 years of age or older. To be able to do so, their customers are required to show a valid identification or a residence permit combined with an extract from the municipal personal records database (Basisregistratie personen, BRP).

Probity Screening

The municipality will sometimes apply the Dutch Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act (Wet Bibob) before granting the permit. If it should emerge that you have a criminal past or that you have criminal connections, the municipality may refuse or withdraw a permit.

Closed cannabis supply chain trial

Under the new budget, the government is expected to launch a small-scale trial for the supply of cannabis to so-called coffeeshops in 2019. The trial will involve a closed supply system to coffeeshops through growers with a special licence. The cannabis will be subject to quality controls. The closed system will exclude criminal activity from the supply chain.

This measure is, of course, subject to the measure passing through the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, as is the date of introduction.

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO