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Dutch finally move to take criminals out of cannabis trade

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'Currently, personal cannabis use is tolerated but commercial cultivation is illegal.' Stock image

'Currently, personal cannabis use is tolerated but commercial cultivation is illegal.' Stock image

'Currently, personal cannabis use is tolerated but commercial cultivation is illegal.' Stock image

Long known for its relaxed attitude to the use of soft drugs, the Netherlands is now taking experimental steps towards legalising cannabis production.

Ten districts will take part in a four-year trial in which coffee shops - where the drug is bought and smoked - will only be supplied by regulated growers.

Currently, personal cannabis use is tolerated but commercial cultivation is illegal. More than 550 coffee shops nationwide buy from criminals.

All 79 coffee shops in Arnhem, Almere, Breda, Groningen, Heerlen, Hellevoetsluis, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Tilburg and Zaanstad will start the experiment in 2021.

Paul Depla, mayor of Breda, said: "After years of knocking against closed doors in The Hague, we can leave behind its half-baked tolerance policy that makes coffee shops depend on an illegal market dominated by criminals, where the consumer knows nothing about the cannabis."

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