Model concepts on Cannabis distribution

The Concept of Cannabis Shops

Concept is exactly the right formulation; Dutch coffee shops have been around since the 1970s. Over the last decades, further concepts have developed for the distribution of Cannabis in a regulated environment.

The following concepts exist (as well as countries with ongoing implementation):

  • Coffeeshops (Netherlands)
  • Cannabis Social Clubs (Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Uruguay)
  • Pharmacies (Germany, various other EU countries, Uruguay)
  • Dispensary & Caretaker Model (USA, Canada)

Coffee Shop Concept

A coffee shop is a tolerated outlet for Cannabis products containing THC in the Netherlands. Under certain circumstances, criminal prosecution is waived.

Conditions and legal provisions

The operation of a Dutch coffee shop is subject to conditions in accordance with the AHOJG criteria:[1].

A (geen affichering) means: No advertising, neither on the outside front of the café, nor in the form of media advertising (radio, press, flyers) or through promotional gifts such as lighters, ballpoint pens or anything else.

H (geen harddrugs) means: neither the sale of hard drugs nor the toleration of their possession or consumption by guests.

O (geen overlast) means: No disturbance of the peace or harassment of residents and passers-by.

J (geen verkoop aan jeugdigen) means: No sale to young people under the age of 18.

G (geen verkoop van grote hoeveelheden) means: No large quantities, neither for sale to guests (max. 5 g per person and day) nor for stock in cafés (max. 500 g).

In 1995, when the law was amended, the regulations were tightened: Cannabis may now only be sold to persons over 18 years of age and only in a maximum quantity of 5 g per person. Previously, it was permitted to sell cannabis to young people aged 16 and over, and the maximum sales volume was 30 g[2].

Amsterdam coffee shops are visited at irregular intervals by a so-called drug police. This police inspects the coffee shops and, after successful inspection, hands out a rectangular green-and-white seal with a number which distinguishes a proper coffee shop. The shop owner must affix this seal to the entrance door of his shop.

A further criterion is that in most coffee shops no alcohol may be served. Especially in Amsterdam and The Hague there are exceptions to this rule: In the course of a normalization policy regarding alcohol and cannabis, some coffee shops were granted a license to serve alcohol.

Cannabis Social Clubs

Cannabis Social Club (CSC) are non-commercial associations that organize the professional, collective cultivation of a very limited quantity of Cannabis, just enough to meet the personal needs of club members.

Cultivation, transport, distribution and consumption must be subject to safety checks and quality controls, without advertising, shop signs or shop windows. The members secure the finances of the system through membership fees according to their needs.

There must be no cannabis trade. Members must undertake not to sell cannabis and not to encourage third parties, especially minors, to use it.

A project by Europeans

Today there are already active CSCs in Spain and Belgium. The association “Trekt Uw Plant” ("Grow your plant"), formed by cannabis users in Antwerp, is starting its first collective planting. In accordance with local Belgian policy, planting a female cannabis plant is tolerated per person, although it is not legal. With the establishment of a collective planting Trekt uw Plant tries to solve the problem of many people who cannot plant themselves. The action also aims to improve legal certainty in hemp cultivation, reduce the black market for cannabis products and access to cannabis for young people, and protect the health of consumers.

Since the positive verdict for a similar initiative, the Pannagh Association, in Bilbao in April 2006, several groups of hemp users have been working under the supervision of the Spanish authorities. In the USA and Canada there are dozens of clubs for medical users, which often function less transparently than Cannabis Social Clubs.

Cannabis shop according to CannKG

The draft of a Cannabis Control Act (CannKG) is a draft law introduced into the German Bundestag by the parliamentary group “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen” on 20 March 2015. It aims to provide adults with legal access to Cannabis as a stimulant and at the same time to serve youth and consumer protection as well as addiction prevention. The draft law (printed matter 18/4204) of 3 March 2015 triggered controversial reactions and a media response throughout Germany. (Wikipedia)

The bill allows adults a limited quantity of access to Cannabis and Cannabis products. To this end, adults may grow a limited number of Cannabis plants for private use and may store and consume the harvest of these plants. Adults can also purchase Cannabis in so-called Cannabis specialist shops.

Dispensary Model Canada

Medical Cannabis distribution centers exist in Canada, but are not a "permitted" model. That is why they are repeatedly in conflict with law enforcement and the city government. Supporters see it as clubs that sell cannabis exclusively for medical purposes. A recent study shows that 65% of the Canadian population are in favour of privately run distribution centers.

Canada will fully regulate cannabis, also for non-medical use, by January 1, 2018, making it the first G7 country to legalize cannabis.

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