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Applying for dispensation from the Opium Act

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

You are not permitted to have drugs which are banned under the Dutch Opium Act (Opiumwet) on your business premises. Furthermore, you are not allowed to prepare, treat, process, sell, supply, provide or transport these substances. You are only allowed to do so when you have dispensation from the Opium Act. This concerns:

Requesting dispensation

You can apply for dispensation from the opium act to Farmatec (in Dutch). You can request dispensation for the use of narcotics for:

  • public health
  • animal health
  • scientific (academic) or analytical chemical research
  • instructive purposes (such as training sniffer dogs)
  • trade-related purposes (food additives)

No dispensation required

For certain activities, the obligation to request dispensation does not apply to physicians, pharmacists, GP surgery dispensaries and hospitals. The Opium Act also does not apply to institutions and persons designated by the government or institutions that keep drugs in stock to practice medicine, dentistry or for their own medicinal use.

Medicinal cannabis

Pharmacists and research institutions, such as universities and hospitals, that need legal medicinal cannabis, can apply to the Dutch Office for Medicinal Cannabis (OMC).

Dispensation for growing hemp

Dispensation from the opium act is also required for the preparation of and the growing of hemp. Without dispensation, you are committing a criminal offence.

Import and export

Import and export by pharmaceutical companies is also only allowed with a dispensation. You can obtain this dispensation from Farmatec, which is part of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS).

This dispensation is valid for 13 months. You should complete your import and export activities within this period or you must apply for dispensation anew. In certain cases you can apply for a 6-months dispensation, for instance when exporting from the United States, India or China.

Import and export of hemp

If you want import or export hemp (cannabis), hashish, hemp oil or preparations thereof, you should apply to the Dutch Office for Medicinal Cannabis (OMC).


The Dutch Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (Inspectie Gezondheidszorg en Jeugd, IGJ) supervises companies and institutions that have a dispensation from the opium act. They check for instance if your administration is in order and if the security measures for these products are tight enough. The inspectorate also advises Farmatec and the OMC on applications for dispensation.

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This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
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