Netherlands clarifies application process to grow adult-use cannabis

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The Dutch government wants to clear up several issues regarding the application process to grow legal recreational marijuana.

The process is part of an experiment in the Netherlands to legalize for the first time – though it’s limited in scope and time – the production of marijuana destined to be sold in coffee shops. (Basic information about the application process can be found here.)

Only applicants that demonstrate the capability to cultivate at a large scale – a minimum of 6,500 kilograms (14,330 pounds) per year – will be considered.

But the government’s newly released FAQ specifies that the winners won’t necessarily have to grow that amount.

Up to 10 growers will be selected to supply roughly 80 coffee shops in 10 municipalities during a period of at least four years.

The government estimates a minimum production of 65,000 kilograms per year will be needed, considering that each of the 80 coffee shops has an average turnover of about 1 kilogram per day – 20% of which is hashish.

However, the growers won’t have the obligation to grow a minimum of 6,500 kilograms each during the trial nor will they have any guarantee that they will be able to sell any quantity.

How much growers will produce and sell still will largely depend on supply and demand.

Another important takeaway is the phases of the selection process, which is expected to be completed before the end of the year:

  1. Compliance with fundamentals, including a complete and correct application.
  2. Material evaluation: Ensuring that the content of the documents fulfills the requirements in the laws and regulations.
  3. An opinion from the mayor of the jurisdiction where the cultivation is planned with regard to public order and safety. A mayor’s opposition could result in rejection of an application.
  4. If more than 10 applications qualify, a draw will determine the winners.
  5. Background check based on the Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act (Bibob).

Other takeaways from the FAQ include:

  • Applications can be submitted electronically or via mail, but no application will be accepted after July 28.
  • Applicants will be notified once their paperwork is received, if it is rejected and, if a draw is necessary, the results of that step.
  • Permits are nontransferable, but management or shareholders changes will be allowed. Any changes might require new background checks.
  • Submitting multiple applications that depend on the same financing source won’t increase the chances of obtaining a license.
  • No cannabis-specific experience is required, but applicants must prove agricultural knowledge and experience.
  • Growers will be able to buy starting materials from legal seed sellers. Under more restrictive circumstances, buying cuttings will also be possible.
  • Outdoor cultivation will be possible provided all requirements are met.
  • Growers will be able to supply coffee shops with edibles.
  • A track-and-trace software will be provided by the government to all growers and will be mandatory to use.

Alfredo Pascual can be reached at