Cover: Onderzoek Experiment gesloten coffeeshopketen: Rapportage nulmeting 2022

Onderzoek Experiment gesloten coffeeshopketen: Rapportage nulmeting 2022

Study in support of the Controlled Cannabis Supply Chain Experiment: Baseline report 2022

Published Mar 14, 2024

by Ralph Mennes, Stijn Hoorens, Margriet van Laar, Karin Monshouwer, Rosa Andree, Pieter Oomen, Mafalda Pardal, Emma Leenders, Irene Schoonbeek, Erwin van der Lee, et al.

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Research Questions

  1. What is the theory of change for the 'Controlled Cannabis Supply Chain Experiment' in the Netherlands?
  2. Which cannabis products do the coffeeshops located in the 10 intervention municipalities and the 10 comparison municipalities offer and what are their characteristics?
  3. What is the purchasing and consumption behaviour of coffeeshop customers in the intervention and comparison municipalities, and what is their user experience of the cannabis products?
  4. To what extent do nearby residents and workers experience any nuisance or public disorder related to the coffeeshops in intervention and comparison municipalities?
  5. What are the most important reasons for purchasing cannabis outside coffeeshops (i.e., on the illegal market) in intervention and comparison municipalities, what are the characteristics of these transactions and what is the user experience of the cannabis products?

Note: This report is in Dutch. An English-language summary is included in the full report and also available as a separate download.

In 2024, the Netherlands will start an experiment with a controlled cannabis supply chain. During this experiment, ten municipalities will conduct a pilot with the sale of legally grown cannabis. For this purpose, up to ten commercial cannabis growers are selected and granted (temporary) exemption from the Opium Act. The legal products will be exclusively sold in so-called 'coffeeshops', the licensed dispensaries that have existed in the Netherlands since the 1970s as part of its policy to tolerate (de facto legalise) cannabis retail sales.

This study reports on the baseline measurement conducted for this experiment prior to the introduction of regulated cannabis production. It maps the current situation regarding cannabis consumption, sales of cannabis in coffeeshops and on the illegal market, as well as the experiment's theory of change. Most of the field work for the baseline took place from September 2022 to December 2022, which, in addition to the 10 intervention municipalities participating in the experiment, covers 10 comparison municipalities (where the status quo will continue).

The data collection for the baseline report included: 31 interviews with 130 stakeholders; 1,252 counts of coffeeshop visitors at 142 coffeeshops; 922 visitor questionnaires at 138 coffeeshops; 125 menus in 125 coffeeshops; 437 survey responses from people who live and/or work in the neighbourhood of 146 coffeeshops; 52 short interviews with owners and/or employees of 45 coffeeshops; and an online survey among people who buy cannabis on the illegal market. Finally, the researchers analysed law enforcement registration data from these municipalities.

Key Findings

Theory of change

The primary objective of this experiment is to test the feasibility of realising a controlled supply chain, within which growers can produce and supply quality-controlled cannabis to the coffeeshops. When this closed supply chain is created, it is important that growers, distributors and coffeeshops can operate with an economically sound business model and with manageable costs that can compete with non-regulated variants. This would require, among other things, a diverse range of hash and cannabis varieties that can be offered at a competitive price.

Cannabis on offer in coffeeshops

The menu card analysis showed that on average there is more weed than hash on the menus of coffeeshops. Coffeeshops have an average of 24.4 different cannabis products on offer. The average price per gram of weed was €11.55 in intervention and €11.23 in comparison municipalities.

Buying patterns of coffeeshop visitors

The coffeeshops in intervention municipalities had on average 560 daily visitors, and comparison municipalities had 450 on average. Coffeeshop visitors are generally satisfied with the supply, price and user experience of cannabis sold by coffeeshops. The decision to buy hashish or cannabis in a particular coffeeshop is mainly impacted by the location and atmosphere of the coffeeshop, as well as the quality of the cannabis on offer. However, frequent coffeeshop visitors, often heavy users, are at high risk of moderate or severe disorders due to cannabis consumption.

Public disorder and nuisance

The study showed that respectively 85% of the respondents in intervention and 93% in comparison municipalities are satisfied or very satisfied with living or working in the neighbourhood of coffeeshops. Although the majority of people who live and work near the coffeeshop are aware of incidents that might have caused disturbances, they experience little nuisance caused by the coffeeshop and/or its visitors.

Illegal cannabis market

Price and value for money are the main reasons for purchasing cannabis on the illegal market. Furthermore, the ability to buy larger quantities and the relatively quick and easy service of a delivery service play a role. Delivery services and so-called mobile phone dealers are the most frequently used methods for purchases outside of coffeeshops. The average price per gram was just below €7 for cannabis and slightly above €6 for hashish in both intervention and comparison municipalities. Dealers give significant discounts for larger volumes: the average price for purchases above 50 grams is €4 per gram, for both cannabis and hashish in both research groups.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was commissioned by the Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) and conducted by Breuer&Intraval, RAND Europe and the Trimbos Institute.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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