Global Cannabis: The Netherlands

The Netherlands

Cannabis entrepreneurs are not tilting at windmills in the Netherlands, where there are some serious business roadblocks. Photo by Jenifoto

Milestones in the Medical Cannabis Program

The Office of Medical Cannabis was created in 2001, and the first products became available in Dutch pharmacies in fall 2003.

 

Key Laws and Regulations

  • Opium Act

 

Market Data

  • A centralized registry of patients does not exist.
  • About 550 kilograms (1,213 pounds) of flower were sold in 2018, with an estimated retail value of $3.8 million (3.4 million euros).
  • A total of 49,500 cannabis prescriptions were issued in 2018, down from 53,300 in 2017.

 

Medical Cannabis Products Available in the Market

  • Five strains of Bedrocan flower are available.
  • A handful of pharmacies prepare oils with those flowers.

 

North American Companies in the Market

  • No North American companies are currently producing medical cannabis for commercial purposes in the Netherlands or exporting product to the country.
  • There’s an ongoing application process to select at least one new grower, and several North American companies most likely will apply.

 

Big Picture

  • The Netherlands was the third-largest medical cannabis market in Europe in 2018.
  • Bedrocan, the sole domestic cultivator, accounted for all the product sold to patients in Dutch pharmacies.
  • Unlike Germany and Italy, the Dutch insurance system does not provide general reimbursement for medical cannabis. The Dutch National Health Care Institute has repeatedly concluded that there’s not enough evidence to support coverage of cannabis by basic health insurance.
  • The Dutch Office of Medical Cannabis enjoys a monopoly over the importation of medical cannabis.
  • The Office of Medical Cannabis also has a monopoly over exports. In 2018, more than 2,000 kilograms were exported to different European countries, with most going to Germany. Bedrocan accounted for all the production.
  • An application process to select new growers was started in 2017 but then halted the following year after applicants questioned the requirements imposed by the Dutch government. The new application process started in July 2019.

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