Cannabis (CBD) in products in the Netherlands

Our cannabis lawyer has been involved in the legal aspects of the changing Dutch market for Cannabis products.
The Netherlands allows products that are high in cannabidiol (CBD) and low in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Cannabis in products in the Netherlands including drinks are allowed without exemption :

  • the amount of THC does not exceed 0.05%
  • the product should not bear a medical claim
  • the buyer should not be advising to take in more than 160 mg CBD per day.

The use of THC extracted from a weed plant is not allowed in a product the Netherlands. Depending on the product it may be necessary to consult The Netherlands food and consumer product safety authority (NVWA).

Dutch Act on Drugs (Opium Act)

The distinction between hard and soft drugs markets is reflected in the Opium Act (Opiumwet). List I contains all substances considered hard drugs and List II substances considered soft drugs. Cannabis, hemp and hashish are on List II. List I contains drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, LSD and opiates. The government regards List II as less harmful to consumers than List I and allows controlled sale of cannabis for recreational use in coffeeshops. In article 5 Opium Act, the competence to control and license Dutch coffeeshops is granted to municipalities. Under article 8 of the Opium Act, these exemptions may be granted for certain purposes.

Exemption under the Dutch Controlled Substances Act

For products exceeding the abovementioned criteria you may apply for an exemption (opiumontheffing) from the statutory prohibition of growing dealing selling of drugs including cannabis. An application for an exemption should be filed with the Dutch Office of Medical Cannabis. Exemption under Section 8, paragraph 1 (a-c) of the Dutch Opium Act is only granted for the following purposes:

  • public health
  • animal health (with a distinction between exemptions for training sniffer dogs and other exemptions)
  • academic or chemical analytical research
  • training
  • trade-related purposes.

In general the Opium Act exemption “in the interest of public health or of the health” of animals fall under the general exemption for, for example, doctors, veterinary surgeons, pharmacists or institutions. Applications for dealing with Opium Act drugs which do not fall under this exemption, but are deemed to be in the interest of public health or that of the health of animals, may also be filed under this exemption. In that case, an exemption may be granted under this category.

Dutch Policy Guidelines on Opium Act Exemptions

Business integrity screening under Dutch BIBOB Act

Extensive Business screening of the applicant will be part of the exemption procedure under the Dutch Substances Act.
Our law firm assists clients with integrity screening procedures which occur also in other branches in the Netherlands. Exemption applicants may be subjected to a security screening, which will include a request to submit administrative and financial data through annual reports with explanations and a so-called Declaration concerning the conduct of the applicant or – in the case of legal entities – of the legal entities directors, managers, shareholders, financiers, etc.

Product file Cannabis Product

The applicant for a Dutch Cannabis Exemption should forward a quality file for the product. The product characteristics must be carefully recorded in the product file. The product file must include a description of what the growing conditions of the cannabis are (like intensity of light, temperature, dampness and fertilization), the specifications of the product grown under these conditions and how there can be monitoring that the product meets these specifications. The production process should prove the conditions for being able to develop a reproducible product or medicine. The selected grower must be able to demonstrate that he is able to deliver such a standardized product within a reasonable time.

Policy guidelines have been drawn up with a view to deciding applications for an Opium Act Exemption. They further develop the criteria mentioned in the Act which will be applied in the decision on an application for an exemption. They also indicate the restrictions and conditions which may be attached to an exemption. The fees which are associated with obtaining an exemption are also mentioned. An exemption may be granted which is subject to restrictions. The Cannabis Bureau may attach conditions to an exemption. Restrictions and conditions to an exemption will depend on the nature of the application and may differ in each case. Please do note that growers will be required to sell their entire harvest to BMC. Condition may be imposed on the exemption is that unnecessary hemp crops be destroyed Conditions to the exemption will cover the number and type of Opium Act drugs to which the exemption relates, the acts which may be performed under the exemption, the purpose for which the exemption has been applied for, adequate security measures regarding the Opium Act drugs present, proper records, cooperation with the Dutch Health Inspector in monitoring compliance with the exemption and other Dutch legislation.

Advice from a Dutch Cannabis Lawyer

Dutch legislation on cannabis has its peculiarities. Take for example the import or export exemption and the import and export of cannabis and cannabis resin. This exemption will be handled by a special inspector of the Health Care Inspectorate. The Cannabis Bureau may wish to enter into a contract that you may wish to be reviewed. Our lawyers are in touch with the authorities involved and can therefore deal with issues instantly.
Please do not hesitate to discuss a cannabis product with one our lawyers. 

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Together with a number of international law firms outside
The Netherlands, Blenheim is member of Lawyers Associated Worldwide.

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