The Dutch government’s announcement of more delays for the cannabis experiment has led to sharp criticism from mayors of the cities that are taking part. Paul Depla, mayor of Breda said: ‘Perhaps we should just move directly to legalization given the number of countries which do now have experience of legalized marijuana cultivation.’
The two responsible ministers for the experiment, health minister Ernst Kuipers and justice minister Dilan Yeşilgöz, sent a four-page letter to Parliament on March 30, outlining the lack of progress and the problems the designated licensed producers are dealing with. These problems include not being able to get a bank account and trouble finding a location without the local government or city council panicking.
To make things even more complicated: the new government, appointed last January, has decided to add one big city to the ten cities taking part in the experiment. But they haven’t succeeded in finding that eleventh city yet. And they are still working on formulating the criteria for the assessment of the outcome of the experiment.
The result of all this: the first experimental weed will not be sold in the coffeeshops of the participating cities in 2020, as was initially planned. Nor will it be available in the second half of this year, as was the adjusted plan. The government now estimates the arrival of the regulated weed in the second quarter of 2023. ‘The road to the start of the experiment turns out to be bumpy’, the responsible ministers write.
The new delays were sharply criticized by the mayors of two participating cities. Tilburg mayor Theo Weterings told Dutch news agency ANP: ‘More delays… how much more can you delay? We expect that some members of parliaments will now scratch their heads and ask what’s happening here?’
His colleague from Breda, Paul Depla, told ANP: ‘It’s clear that everyone who supports the weed experiment is disappointed. Perhaps we should just move directly to legalization given the number of countries which do now have experience of legalized cannabis cultivation.’ A great idea, indeed. Especially if that legalization includes home growing, which remains illegal in the Netherlands, with the repressive laws resulting in hundreds of evictions every year.
Letter by ministers Kuipers and Yesilgöz (in Dutch): https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/experiment-gesloten-coffeeshopketen-wietexperiment/documenten/kamerstukken/2022/03/30/kamerbrief-over-het-experiment-gesloten-coffeeshopketen
ANP article (in Dutch): https://www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl/bestuur-en-organisatie/begin-van-proef-met-legaal-gekweekte-wiet-opnieuw-uitgesteld
Dutch recreational cannabis production pilot beset by delays, MjBizdaily: https://mjbizdaily.com/dutch-recreational-cannabis-production-pilot-beset-by-delays/
By Derrick Bergman, Dutch Encod member, chairman of VOC (Union for the abolition of cannabis prohibition), cannabis journalist