Dutch regulated marijuana growing trial is delayed as problems mount

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Government plans to experiment with regulated marijuana production have run into several problems, and in any case will not start until 2023, justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz has told MPs.

The aim of the project, launched five years ago, was to remove the grey area between licenced cannabis cafes or coffee shops and illegal growing. Coalition party D66 was particularly keen on the plan, which MPs thought would reduce the role of organised crime in the soft drugs circuit.

Since then, however, the experiment has been beset by problems, not least of which was the refusal of any of the big five cities to take part in the four year trial.

‘Unfortunately, it has now emerged that starting in 2022 is no longer realistic,’ Yesilgöz and health minister Ernst Kuipers told MPs in a briefing. The second quarter of 2023 is the earliest possible date, the ministers said.

In addition, officials have failed so far to identify enough growers to take part. Eight have been found, but 10 are needed for the trial. More than that, the growers who have agreed to participate have run into problems with finding a location and opening a bank account.

Banks in particular are reluctant to support the growers because of ‘their responsibilities in legislation to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism,’ the ministers said.

Local authorities which have signed up to participate are also disappointed in the delays. ‘It is clear that everyone who supports the weed experiment is disappointed,’ Breda mayor Paul Depla said.

‘We need to make progress,’ Depla told the AD. ‘How much time are we going to lose. Perhaps we should just move directly to legalization given the number of countries which do now have experience of legalized marijuana cultivation.’

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