Dutch Cannabis Licensing Scheme Hits Local Protests

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Plans to replace the production of blackberries with coffee-shop bound cannabis hit skids over NIMBYism at proposed grow sites for new Dutch licenses.

If it sounds like a scene straight out of a comedy, not to mention Colorado circa 2015 or so, just at a far lower altitude and probably still far more windmills, it is. The only problem is that it is also a tragedy. About lingering stigma, confusion, and more about the plant, if not its effects.

In these times of Covid, it also shows how this continued confusion has lasting effects – starting with jobs.

As the Dutch government proceeds with a pilot project to create ten licensed growers to supply the country’s coffee shops outside of big cities, it has run into its first major snag.

The residents of Etten-Leur, on the Belgian border, have trigged large local protests over a pending plan to replace blackberry crops with cannabis. There is now a request by the local mayor to the central government opposing the scheme. And the selection of the finalists for the 10 Dutch licenses has not even been decided yet.

The legal status of cannabis has everything to do with this. So far, Holland has not formally changed its national laws to legitimise the recreational cannabis industry. Indeed even this first trial as an attempt to do so has been opposed by its own large cities who maintain local controls on a still-flourishing industry.

The largest problem however now facing this model is larger scale, regulated cultivation. With Dutch residents now protesting the placement of larger corporate grows, the entire project may run into problems before it is ever rolled out.

Where To Grow New Canna Crops?

Holland produces a great deal of the medical cannabis flos that flows across the border to Germany – which has had its own ongoing problems with cannabis cultivation bids. Indeed, the first tender for medical cannabis, launched in the spring of 2017, has faced delay after delay in delivering domestically cultivated crops to German patients.

In Holland, the issue is already contentious – starting with the fact that the government could not even get cities to go along with a so-called “national plan.”

If smaller cities and municipalities also get into the act, the first licensing scheme for Holland, regulated on a federal level, will quickly fail.

For this reason, no matter how bad the news, it is also a step forward on the issue overall – in both Holland and the rest of Europe (see Luxembourg for starters).

Having a cannabis presence is one thing. Having a regulated cannabis industry is another.

And as American, if not Canadian communities learned long ago, the transition is always bumpy. For one reason or another. The good news, no matter the uncomfortable delays so far, is that it is happening at all

Be sure to book your tickets when the International Cannabis Business Conference returns to Europe this summer.

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