The Dutch Cannabis Experiment Is Expanding

The Dutch Cannabis Experiment Is Expanding


Momentum for adult-use cannabis reform on the European continent is stronger now than ever before, as demonstrated by lawmakers in Malta passing a legalization measure this month.

Malta’s president recently signed a measure that legalizes cannabis for adult use in Malta for possession, cultivation, and consumption.

Unfortunately, the measure does not include legalized sales, although the public policy change does afford for non-profit cannabis clubs which will provide some level of additional access.

The Netherlands has long been touted as the “cannabis capital of Europe” and while the nation will never become the first to legalize in Europe now that the ship has sailed, legalization in a limited form continues to move forward in the Netherlands.

Netherlands Pilot Program

Lawmakers and regulators in the Netherlands previously set up an adult-use cannabis pilot program in which certain jurisdictions will allow legalized commercial cannabis production and sales to adults.

The goal of the pilot program is to allow the limited rollout of a regulated adult-use industry so that lawmakers and regulators can study any potential effects and be better suited to craft national policies and regulations.

The Netherlands is not alone in implementing such a program. Switzerland also has a similar pilot program underway.

In late 2020 the Netherlands granted 10 licenses to entities for the purpose of allowing them to grow commercial cannabis to supply to the adult use market.

The government in the Netherlands recently announced that another “big city” will be added to the pilot program, however, the specific city was not named in the announcement. 

With that being said, it’s a good sign to see that the pilot program is expanding, as it provides some level of proof that the experiment is working.

An Incremental Approach to Legalization?

Cannabis has long been ‘tolerated’ in the Netherlands, with cannabis being commonly bought and sold at world-famous cannabis cafes for many years in the country, especially in Amsterdam.

Because of so much rich cannabis history and a thriving unregulated market in the European country, implementing a regulated adult-use industry in the Netherlands is no easy task.

The pilot program approach provides for an incremental strategy that could very well speed things up in the country. After all, if you live in a city that is part of the pilot program, cannabis is effectively already legal in the Netherlands.

If the Netherlands continues to expand the pilot program, eventually it will become a nationwide program and essentially cannabis prohibition will be over. 

Being that a regulated framework will already be in place in that scenario, all it will take is a formal announcement that legalization is implemented in the Netherlands, and that could be a much more efficient way to legalize nationwide rather than waiting on lawmakers to work out all of the details before anything can proceed.

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