Dutch Plan to Ban Potent Marijuana From Cannabis Cafes

Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten told parliament last week that the government intends to classify marijuana with a THC content of 15% or more as a Class A drug like heroin and cocaine and bar it from being sold in the country's famous cannabis coffee shops. Opstelten did not say when the new policy would go into effect, although he did say it would happen "quickly."

Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten (wikimedia.org)
And there is some question over whether it actually will go into effect. Opstelten has been justice minister under the conservative coalition that governed until losing elections in September, but that conservative government has now had to enter into a new coalition with the more marijuana-friendly Labor Party.

One result of the new coalition has been the national-level abandonment of the "weed pass" program aimed at excluding foreigners from the coffee shops. It remains to be seen whether the new coalition government and the parliament will go along with treating potent marijuana like heroin or cocaine.

"Hard drugs have no place in the coffee shops and in the future they will only be able to offer cannabis with a THC level of below 15%," Opstelten told MPs.

Coffee shop owners aren't waiting to express their concerns with the proposed move. Barring potent marijuana from the coffee shops will just push it onto the streets, they said.

"Weak weed in the coffee shops, strong weed on the streets -- then the choice is pretty clear," said Marc Josemans, a spokesman for the Maastricht coffee shop owners. "It makes it harder for society. A user smokes less, just as people don’t drink rum out of a beer glass."

About 80% of the marijuana sold in Dutch coffee shops is weed whose potency is 15% or higher.

Although marijuana formally remains illegal in the Netherlands, the country has tolerated the coffee house system since the 1970s and currently allows purchasers to buy up to five grams. There are an estimated 500 or so coffee shops in the country.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

It wouldn't matter if it was 100% THC

It would still be far safer than alcohol. These thug politicians are anti-science, anti-public health and anti-freedom. Off with their heads.

You can die of an overdose of hard drugs, like alcohol, but not like cannabis. Nice upside down message he's sending to kids and others about what can kill you and what can't.

It's never gonna happen. Just

It's never gonna happen. Just like with the weedpass, they will now spend a year talking about it, just to finally realize that it's impossible to enforce....

THC tests can not be forced on coffeeshops.


Opstelten’s requirement to check THC percentages is wrongly being placed on the coffeeshops.


I’m continually amazed at Justice Minister Opstelten’s inventiveness. He keeps harassing the coffeeshop branch with mostly pointless regulations in order to get the coffeeshops closed, as could be said, without really meaning to.


Opstelten & Co.’s latest hairbrained scheme is the implementation of a ban on the sale of cannabis products with a THC content above 15% from the tolerated coffeeshops. The plan is badly substantiated however, because the Minister lays the responsibility for the possible strength of the cannabis products on the coffeeshop owner, the retailer of the cannabis. That’s not like it normally works in commercial trade, because on almost every product sold in shops, restaurants and cafés, you find a label or sticker with the ingredients and compounds in the concerned product indicated. These products are delivered standard, because it’s the producer/manufacturer’s obligation to state the ingredients and compounds in a product on the product. Fresh fruit and flowers are an exception to this regulation, for example.


If we look at luxuries like alcohol and tobacco, people clearly find on the package how much of a certain active or toxic material has been incorporated into these products, such as the percentage of alcohol in beer, wine, or strong drink, or the permillage of nicotine and formaldehyde on tobacco packaging. This information is printed on the packaging of these goods by the producer or manufacturer because they’re required. Various departments of government see to it that this indeed happens, and that the figures printed on the package agree with the values in the products in the same package.


Coffeeshops sell cannabis products in small quantities, such as a cafe keeper taps a glass of beer from a barrel, or a tobacco dealer sells a pack of cigarettes from a carton. In the same way, we weigh 1 gram of weed out from a larger amount of 500 grams.

The cafe keeper and the tobacconist buy their products from a legal wholesaler who functions as a middle-man, and all the products come with a label applied by the manufacturer with the ingredients and their respective quantities in the products indicated.

The coffeeshop owner, on the other hand, has to do business with people who grow and trade in an illegal product, and they don’t have a laboratory at their disposal to determine the THC percentage of their Dutch-grown weed. That’s why, among other reasons, this isn’t listed on the packaging. Now, these illegal cannabis growers are a practically intangible group, and as such, are not approachable for and by the Dutch government. Thus, Minister Opstelten knows he can’t reach the producers of the Dutch weed being delivered to the coffeeshops. He also can’t obligate them to state the ingredients, in this case, the THC percentage etc. on the packaging of the cannabis they produce, like every other producer or manufacturer who wants to sell his products in the Netherlands is required to do.


Opstelten now thinks he can require the coffeeshops to indicate the THC percentage on the cannabis products they’ve acquired while they are not the producers of these products. As so, they are wrongly being saddled with a problem the government itself apparently can’t solve.

As a coffeeshop owner, I reject the imposed obligation by Minister Opsteltent to determine, or have determined, the THC content of the weed I’ve acquired in order to then be able to indicate this on the packaging or on an insert on the cannabis I’m going to sell.

I’m of the opinion that the Minister should take on his responsibility to bring it about that the producers of Dutch weed report the THC content of the cannabis they’ve produced before they deliver it to the coffeeshops. If he’s not capable of doing this, but still demands that the THC percentage of the cannabis products sold by the coffeeshops be indicated, then he should regulate the growing of Dutch weed and the delivery to the coffeeshops by means of legalization. This would be possible by placing the presently permitted coffeeshops in the position to have their cannabis produced by growers registered with the government, based on the number of kilograms of cannabis they sell yearly.

The cannabis sold by the coffeeshops would be accounted for and taxed by the tax service. In this manner, the tax service could pass on the figures for yearly sales per coffeeshop to the government.


Further, I just wonder why this paternalism is being applied to cannabis users. We can control our Dutch weed dosage well. We normally put more or less weed in a joint depending on the potency of the cannabis; actually, just like my grandfather - he drank beer (7% alcohol) from a beer glass, and jenever (40% alcohol) from a shot glass, not the other way around. That’s also called dosing.


Ministers Opstelten and Schippers seem blind and deaf to the statements of drug experts and addiction institutes who find it counterproductive to place cannabis products with more than 15% THC on List 1 of the Opium Law between cocaine, heroin and amphetamine.


Only the street dealers will benefit from the regulations planned by Opstelten & Co. In addition to “white” (cocaine) and “brown” (heroin), now they can also offer their clients of all ages “green” (strong weed) where the police aren’t available. Psssst, white, brown, green?


Tomorrow we’ll just sell fine weed and hash again, 100% quality, with a little less THC.


Nol van Schaik, coffeeshop owner in Haarlem, Holland

English translation by J.P. Morgan

Lol I love your comment.

Lol I love your comment. Shows why legalization instantly makes any dangerous drug safer.

Well said Noel, well said.

Well said Noel, well said. Thanks JP for the translation.

Catch 22. The very strict

Catch 22. The very strict conservative part of the Dutch government(only part of their government) wanted to close the coffee shops in order to get people to conform to their strict conservative lifestyle and it did not happen and this form of new style prohibition will not happen either. If they do not want to use cannabis people don't have to and conservative groups have no right to tell other people to do as they do because this is a form of dictatorship and dictators in any shape or form is never a good idea. Now they want to ban some cannabis because it is stronger than weaker imported cannabis but it is illegal to import cannabis into Holland but they want people to use illegally imported cannabis which is not possible and therefore you would either have to break the law and import your own or break their newly proposed law and go for 15% plus cannabis.

Their idiotic argument that imported cannabis is weak is very foolish with some imported cannabis being less than 15% but a lot of natural land race strains have been 20% plus for tens of thousands and possibly millions of years and they want to ban things in order to get brownie points and look good and say that they are doing things to further their political career and let everyone else suffer for their conservative ignorance.


Another publicity stunt like the Weed Pass.  The Dutch just want to stay in the limelight. The reclassification won't happen I bet.

Measure presupposes overdose smoking method (HBOM)

As someone pointed out above, one doesn't drink whisky by the beerglassful.  If the Opstelten administration wishes to get credit for benefitting public health, GET RID OF Hot Burning Overdose Monoxide $igarette papers.  Coffeehouses can help by banning joints but providing, for a reasonable fee, use of vaporizer, cannabinoid e-cig or One-Hitter (choomette, kiseru, midwakh, sebsi).

High-THC Marijuana is in fact LESS dangerous

The most probable health hazard of smoking pot comes from the act of smoking itself (any smoke is bad for you). High THC content is better for your health as you need to smoke less to get the same effect - thus, less damage to lungs and airways.

Of course, one should always try to use marijuana (or alcohol, or prescription drugs) responsibly, and know one's limits.

Thinking Clearly's picture

Foolishness and Lies

The strongest of the strains of  marijuana are also probably the healthiest ones if it is being used regularly as a theraputic agent.

Regular visitors to the coffee shops are unaffected by higher strength cannabis which cause them no problems whatsoever.

The strength of pot is no stronger now than it ever has been. Prohibitionists lie in saying marijuana is now stronger that ever before by playing into the idea that somehow current scientific genetic mapping regularly produces excessive strength marijuana. Untrue.

Hybridization techniques have been used in the breeding of marijuana plants for centuries and throughout the history of its use. The current methods are no different. No marijuana plants offered in coffee shops have been produced in any laboratory using gene splicing techniques. Those are actually techniques that are being used to produce corn and wheat and other food crops that you are unknowingly putting in your body. There is now a protein in genetically modified wheat that attaches itself to the opiate receptors in the body- it does not occur in nature.

Dutch authorities have been deceived by the prohibitionistic rants or are themselves guilty of deceit. Some authorities are desperate to stop marijuana at all costs and deceit is not a barrier to them. I was smoking stronger cannabis in the 70's than most available over the shelves in local dispensaries and Dutch coffee shops now.

Sensimilla is the name for strong pot. It is the flowering bud of the female marijuana plant UNFERTILIZED by a male plant - where the highest concentration of THC is located. Poor quality Mexican weed that was not sensimilla has been being imported into the US for decades. It is full of seeds and unprocessed except for being compacted into bricks. Its not sensimilla. Sensimilla  is what medical marijuana IS in the US. Illegal "commercial" weed in the US has never been of the sensimilla variety (which is always stronger). Sensimilla has no seeds.

Strong pot is nothing new. Pretending there is a new age emergency over the strength of pot is hocus pocus.

More smoke and mirrors from officials that SHOULD know better. I don't believe this garbage, and neither should you.

martin holsinger's picture

coffee shop comparison

This is like telling a coffee-only coffee shop that they can't sell espresso!

Politicians & prohibition

Fascinating.  Politicians who support prohibition enable and encourage organized crime.  Prohibition creates corruption at all levels of government according to the U.N.. Lawmakers who promote the "war on drugs" are supporting black market activity. This spawns the gang-related violence and underground profits which drive the industry.   Politicians who advocate failed social policies are, at best, deceiving their constituents. At worst, they are actively involved in the corruption.

The cannabis culture is about the inherent benefits of the herb.  Higher THC levels simply show that the cannabis growers are becoming better at their work.  A legal market would show this trend very clearly and many cultivators would take great pride in producing high THC grades.  Since labeling and testing would be available, consumers would have the benefit of knowing who grows the best.


I assume this means that the Dutch are only opposed to good cannabis?As long as it's shake or worse,they have no problem?Their policy,once seen as world leading,has been eroded over the years and is now an embarrassment.Strange how things change.This is solid proof that the fight for personal freedom is never over as there are always those people who will believe that they know better than you as to what you should do.I assume that they have reams of evidence that the stronger strains are dangerous and that it simply cannot be left to the individual to choose their poison.The Dutch always claim to follow the evidence.This is just a part of a recent move to reclassify strong cannabis as a new drug with far more need for strict standards and monitoring.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School