What’s With The Netherlands’ Ban On Cannabis Extracts?

What’s With The Netherlands’ Ban On Cannabis Extracts?

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The Dutch are practically synonymous with weed smoking. For generations, before the U.S. started to legalize the plant state by state, the Netherlands (Amsterdam, in particular) was the cannabist’s holiday destination of choice. Cheech and Chong went there. Vincent Vega and Ocean’s Eleven too.

Even the word “dutch” has come to mean a blunt or spliff, particularly one rolled with the ubiquitous Dutch Master wraps.

So, it’s kind of weird that in what was once an eden for all things bud, the new face of cannabis, extracts, is straight up banned from sale. In the Netherlands, of all places, there is a rigid legal distinction between flower and extracts. While cannabis flowers are considered “soft drugs,” concentrates are regulated as hard drugs, as per the nation’s Opium Act.

Any coffeeshop caught selling hash oil can lose its license, or, at the very least, receive a hefty fine. For now, the only legal way for a medical marijuana patient in Holland to legally acquire concentrates is for them to apply to a little-used, pain-in-the-ass exemption.

“The only legal cannabis extracts which are available in the Netherlands are produced by a pharmacy for a patient who has a recommendation from a doctor (pharmaceutical compounding). Only GMP-certified pharmacies are allowed to make these preparations,” the Office of Medicinal Cannabis (OMC) recently told Marijuana.com.

And extracts aren’t the only unreasonable limitation for the country’s cannabis retailers. No coffeeshop is allowed to offer a bud with higher THC content than 15%. They’re also forbidden to carry more than 500 grams (roughly 17 ounces) in a store at any given time.

Of course, there are ways around these restrictions. As for the THC content limit, cannabis sellers simply don’t list their THC content so that they plead ignorance. This, however, clearly does discerning smokers a disservice.

The extracts problem has a solution too, although a tenuous one. Organizations such as the Suver Nuver Medical Social Club reported by Marijuana.com serve as a meeting place for patients and connoisseurs to trade their wares. The government so far has been hands off, but this club, like the coffeeshops, is not strictly legal, only tolerated by authorities.

Photo via Flickr user Viaggio Routard

 

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