Connect with us


The Netherlands to launch cannabis legalisation pilot December 2023

Following a number of delays, officials have now confirmed that the startup phase will begin on 15 December.



The 'closed coffee shop experiment' aims to monitor the effects of rolling out a regulated cannabis market across the country.

Dutch officials have announced that the country’s cannabis legalisation experiment will begin its pilot phase before the end of the year.

Initially approved by the senate in 2019, the Wietexperiment [Weed Experiment] will see a select number of cultivators permitted to supply legal cannabis to coffee shops in 10 cities throughout the Netherlands. 

While the tourist hotspot of Amsterdam is famous for its cannabis coffee shops, the sale and cultivation of cannabis for recreational purposes remains illegal outside of these establishments.

Under current laws, coffee shops are allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis to consumers, but they must operate under strict rules, and suppliers are prohibited from selling any cannabis to the businesses, creating what has become known as the ‘backdoor policy’.

What officials are calling the ‘closed coffee shop experiment’ aims to monitor the effects of rolling out a regulated cannabis market across the country and help prevent crime. 

Following a number of delays, a letter to the Dutch parliament has now confirmed that the startup phase will begin on 15 December, in the cities of Breda and Tilburg.

During this stage the participating coffee shops will be permitted to sell both legally grown and ‘tolerated’ (unregulated) products, with two cultivators selected to supply cannabis legally.

The startup phase will last a maximum of six months, during which all developments will be closely monitored to ‘gain experience of the closed chain and all the processes that come with it’.

This is to be followed by a ‘transition phase’ in which all participating cities will be permitted to sell regulated products in addition to those which are tolerated. 

The letter states: “Developments during the start-up phase are monitored. If public order or safety is seriously threatened, the start-up phase will be stopped prematurely. The insights will be shared with all participating municipalities and used to improve processes and systems for a smooth transition phase.”

It is expected that all cities will be able to start the transition phase by the end of the first quarter of 2024, at the earliest, with the next two producers expected to start supplying coffee shops from February.

According to local media reports, 10 growers were initially selected to take part in the experiment but one has since lost its permit and others have faced logistical issues such as being unable to set up bank accounts.

The government says the growers’ planning is currently ‘too uncertain’ to provide more clarity around an actual start date for the experiment. 

The city of Amsterdam has also expressed an interest in taking part in the Wietexperiment and discussions are said to be ongoing. A bill to amend the Act and the Closed Coffee Shop Chain Experiment Decree is currently with the House of Representatives.

Home » News » The Netherlands to launch cannabis legalisation pilot December 2023

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

Copyright © 2023 PP Intelligence Ltd.