Dutch government seeks to ease doubts over adult-use cannabis trial

As it seeks to ease public concerns, the Netherlands is evaluating applications to grow marijuana under a pilot program to permit limited cultivation and sales of adult-use cannabis.

The selection process involves consulting with mayors of the municipalities where the applicants intend to grow.

To clear up any confusion and ease public jitters about the program, the government this week published a lengthy Q&A featuring 77 questions and answers covering a variety of topics, including:

  • The applicant review process.
  • The mayors’ input on public safety issues.
  • Background checks into the growers.
  • The pilot program’s timeline.
  • Local requirements.
  • Regulatory oversight and enforcement.

By the end of the July deadline to apply, the government had received 149 applications to grow marijuana to be sold to coffee shops in the 10 municipalities that are part of the experimental program.

Under the plan, a maximum of 10 growers will be selected in early 2021.

A lottery involving all applications that are complete and comply with the requirements will determine the winners.

The Q&A justified such an approach “based on the principle of equal treatment of all suitable applications.”

The approximately 80 coffee shops participating in the pilot program will be free to pick the growers from which they will buy their marijuana.

The coffee shops will be able to sell only product sourced from the legal suppliers, meaning they must abandon their current illicit suppliers.

The winning growers will be free to sell to coffee shops located in any of the participating municipalities.

Supply and demand will largely determine the quantities sold by the growers and bought by the coffee shops.

A key requirement for cultivation applicants to be considered for the lottery is a positive review by the mayor of the municipality where the grow operation is planned.

A significant part of the Q&A focuses on the mayors’ input, explaining that:

  • Plans to grow in multiple locations – even in different municipalities – could be accepted, but the selection committee will request the advice of the mayor in each municipality.
  • The final request for input will be sent to mayors in early October.
  • It is possible for multiple growers to be selected in a single municipality.
  • Mayors are being asked to provide advice for each cultivation application in their municipality. It’s possible a mayor could give a positive review for one applicant but not for another – for example, if one growing location is undesirable from a public safety standpoint.
  • A legitimate negative review from a mayor is expected to lead to an applicant’s rejection.