Evaluating the closed coffeeshop chain cannabis experiment in the Netherlands

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Since the 1970s, there has been a tolerance policy in the Netherlands for the sale of cannabis products in so-called "coffeeshops". However, while cannabis sales are tolerated, the cultivation of cannabis and its delivery to coffeeshops has been prohibited.

To provide a solution to the alleged health risks and public order issues that can arise from this so-called "back door" problem, the Dutch government proposed to conduct an experiment in ten municipalities to explore the effects of cultivating and delivering quality-controlled cannabis through a closed supply chain for coffeeshops.

How are we helping?

To help understand the outcomes of this experiment, a research consortium consisting of Breuer & Intraval, RAND Europe and the Trimbos Institute was commissioned by the Netherlands Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) to conduct a study throughout the four-year experimentation phase. The study will investigate the impact of the experiment on health, user experience, nuisance, displacement effects, as well as how the experiment is implemented in different settings.

A variety of methods will be used in the approach, including surveys of coffeeshop visitors and local residents, as well as interviews with coffeeshop owners and other parties directly or indirectly involved. Researchers will compare ten intervention cities where the closed coffee shop chain is implemented with a control group of ten cities where the current situation is maintained, in order to map the effects of the experiment. Prior to the introduction of the closed cannabis supply chain for coffeeshops, the research team will conduct a baseline measurement in intervention cities as well as in the control group.

The results will provide information for making a reasoned choice about the future of cannabis policy.