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Government information for entrepreneurs

Sale of cannabis in coffeeshops

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you own a coffeeshop or do you want open a coffeeshop? There are strict conditions under which you can sell soft drugs (hash and cannabis).

Rules during corona

Since 1 July you may open for normal business again. You must comply with the rules for the hospitality sector.

Toleration policy

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).

Requirements for coffeeshops

To sell hash and cannabis you must comply with the rules of the toleration policy:

  • You may not sell more than 5 grams of soft drugs per person per day
  • You may not sell hard drugs (these are on list I of the Opium ActExternal link, in Dutch)
  • Minors are not allowed in your shop
  • You may not sell soft drugs to minors
  • You are not allowed to serve alcohol
  • You cannot advertise your coffeeshop or drugs
  • Your coffeeshop may not be a nuisance to the neighbourhood
  • You may not keep more than 500 grams of soft drugs in stock
  • You may only allow residents of the Netherlands in your coffeeshop
  • You may only sell soft drugs to residents of the Netherlands

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

A small-scale trialExternal link for the supply of cannabis is due to start on 1 January 2021. 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.

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO