Medical Extracts in the Netherlands: An Uncertain Tightrope

In the Netherlands, cannabis products were already available when draconian penalties for cannabis offenses still reigned supreme in California, Colorado, and Vancouver. However, while many states and countries have relaxed their cannabis legislation, the rules on cannabis sales in Dutch coffeeshops have tightened gradually since the 1980s. Today, the shops must adhere to a growingly restrictive set of rules:

  • Sales limits of 5 grams per person
  • No products with more than 15% THC *
  • No more than 500 grams of cannabis in stock per store
  • Oils or extracts are considered hard drugs and cannot be sold

THC and CBD oil are listed as “tetrahydrocannabinol” and “hemp oil” on List I of the Opium Act, and are thus considered hard drugs by Dutch authorities. Considered separate from “soft drugs” such as herbal cannabis or hash, the sale of any hard drugs in the Netherlands is strictly prohibited. In addition to paying a high fine, a coffeeshop caught selling cannabis oil can lose its license.

Alongside its coffeeshops, the Netherlands has one of the oldest medical cannabis laws in the world. However, not even this 14-year-old legacy allows patients to use the arguably…

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