Background information and experiment design

The Controlled Cannabis Supply Chain Experiment aims to establish whether there is a possible alternative to the current tolerance policy. Although the production and supply of cannabis to ‘coffee shops’ (the local term for cannabis cafés) is illegal, the government tolerates the sale of cannabis.


There are approximately 570 coffee shops in the Netherlands spread across 102 municipalities. The government tolerates the sale of cannabis by coffee shops to consumers under strict conditions. This means that there is no criminal penalty for selling weed and hash. But the production and supply of cannabis to coffee shops is not tolerated and is illegal.

In the 1970s, the Netherlands introduced its policy of tolerance for the sale of cannabis in coffee shops to separate the markets for hard and soft drugs. But this approach has brought its own set of problems with regard to public order, public health and crime that undermines society. There is growing public pressure to address these issues.

In the 2017-2021 coalition agreement the government undertook to conduct a small-scale experiment up to 10 municipalities.

Purpose of the experiment

The purpose of the experiment is to see whether it is possible to decriminalise the supply of quality-controlled cannabis by growers to coffee shops and determine how this can best be done. Decriminalisation involves amending legislation so that there is no criminal penalty for the production, distribution and sale of cannabis within the context of the experiment.

In addition, the government wants to see what effects decriminalisation will have on the problems that some municipalities experience.

See also the distinction between cannabis, weed, hash and hemp.


During the experiment, coffee shops in participating municipalities will sell regulated, quality-controlled cannabis. The cannabis will be produced by a maximum of 10 designated growers chosen by means of a selection procedure.

Five phases

The experiment consists of five phases, which ensure a gradual progression away from and back to the current situation. For more information about these phases, see the Rules for the experiment with a controlled supply of cannabis to coffee shops.

New legislation drawn up for the purposes of the experiment will apply for the duration of the experiment. Read more about the legislation on which the experiment is based.

Advice, guidance and evaluation of the experiment

During the experiment the Minister of Justice and Security and the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport will be advised by two committees. The independent advisory committee, chaired by Professor André Knottnerus, provided recommendations regarding the set-up and design of the experiment. An independent guidance and evaluation committee has also been appointed. Read more about the advisory committee and the guidance and evaluation committee.