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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).
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).
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
A small-scale trial for the supply of cannabis is due to begin on 1 December 2019. The trial aims to find out whether it is possible to create a closed supply system for supplying and selling cannabis in coffeeshops. In the trial, growers with a special licence will be allowed to supply coffeeshops legally. The cannabis will be subject to quality controls. The closed system will exclude criminal activity from the supply chain.
A number of rules will apply to the trial:
- All coffeeshops in the participating municipalities will take part in the experiment.
- The administration of these coffeeshops and their suppliers has to be transparent and watertight.
- Market forces will determine the price and range of products available.
- The amount of active substances (THC and CBD) must be clearly indicated on the packaging.
- The coffeeshops sell these pre-packaged products as supplied by the growers.