The Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) has serious doubts about the feasibility of the weed experiment. According to the umbrella organization of all municipalities in the Netherlands, municipalities must be able to determine themselves whether they want to apply the resident criterion. In addition, it is important that a test is included in an Order in Council (AMvB). This is to determine whether different coffee shops can and want to participate in the weed test. The VNG wants to discuss these objections during a hearing in the Lower House.
An AMwb is a decision of the government in which rules from a law are further elaborated. The weed test has been under a magnifying glass for months because of the criteria that destroy the feasibility of the experiment. The biggest stumbling blocks are that all coffee shops in a participating municipality must participate in the test. Moreover, these coffee shops are only allowed to sell state weed, which means that the assortment for consumers is considerably smaller.
Both criteria are unfeasible and encounter a lot of resistance from municipalities and coffee shop owners. Earlier, Amsterdam announced that it would not be feasible for many dozens of coffee shops to participate in the test. The city believes that Amsterdam should not be missing in the experiment.
Nevertheless, there is hope on the horizon: good discussions with the ministers have led to adjustments that benefit the bill. For example, more attention to prevention and compelling advice from mayors about the growing location of state weed. However, sticking to the residents' criterion causes problems in border municipalities. According to the VNG, it is better for municipalities to decide for themselves whether they permit the sale of cannabis only to cardholders or also to tourists or foreigners.
Wetrings and Aboutaleb disagree with criteria weed experiment
“If too few municipalities participate in the experiment, it is doomed to fail,” mayor Theo Wetrings of Tilburg told EenVandaag. According to him, the participation of a municipality should not depend on whether a coffee shop owner wants to participate or not. Aboutaleb also questions the test: "There is no chance of success in the big cities if the cabinet insists on the requirement that all coffee shops in a municipality must participate." In addition, he points out that a lot of police capacity is used around cannabis. "That's chasing a ghost you can't catch." This may change with a successful experiment with state weed. The goal is to get cannabis out of a criminal corner and off the street.
State cannabis or not?
In order to arrive at a feasible experiment with useful results, the Lower House must amend the proposal on these critical points. The VNG therefore wants a hearing in the House of Representatives to discuss these criteria. But when will the experiment come about? According to an analysis in de Volkskrant, it may take another 2 years before the weed trial finally gets off the ground. In theory, this could mean that the weed experiment is still being dismissed. The cabinet has already been dismissed in mid-2021, because the House of Representatives elections are scheduled for March of that year. D66 MP Vera Bergkamp says in the newspaper, however, that she trusts that the first regulated joint will be smoked during this cabinet term.
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