28 September 2022

Importing medical cannabis in the Netherlands

Category: Cannabis law

The Office of Medicinal Cannabis (BMC) has the legal sole right to import cannabis in the Netherlands. This follows from the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

Medicinal cannabis regulation in the Netherlands

Article 36 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs allows the contracting parties to choose their own definition of offenses. The Netherlands made use of this possibility when amending the Opium Act, and appointed BMC as monopolist for medical cannabis.

Opium exemption is not always necessary. Under certain conditions not necessary for pharmacists, dispensing physicians and veterinarians. In addition, not applicable to government-designated institutions and persons or institutions that stock such drugs for the practice of medicine, dentistry or for personal medical use (Art. 5 Opium Act). However, las the cannabis is used for other than medicinal purpose an exemption from the Opium Act is required. Applications relating to substances other than hemp (cannabis), hashish, hemp oil or preparations of these substances must be submitted to Farmatec.

Opium Act exemption is needed for a number of cases

An opium exemption can be granted for:

  • – Public health (art 8 section 1 opening words and under a, Opium Act)
  • – Animal health (art 8 paragraph 1 opening words and under a, Opium Act)
  • – Scientific or analytical-chemical research (art 8 paragraph 1 opening words and under b, Opium Act)
  • – Instructional purposes (art 8 subsection 1 opening words and under b, Opium Act)
  • – Trade-related purposes (art 8 paragraph 1 opening words and under c, Opium Act)

The application form states that applications for hashish, hemp and hemp oil must be submitted to the Office of Medicinal Cannabis (BMC). The application for opium exemption is made via the application form (to be requested via mail). To bring listed substances into the territory of the Netherlands you need an import dispensation from Inspectie Gezondheidszorg en Jeugd (IGJ). The IGJ can only grant this if you already have an exemption from the BMC.

Importing medical cannabis to the Netherlands

A foreign business wishing to import cannabis or cannabis extracts must submit the following documents to the OMC:

  • two original import licences;
  • an accompanying letter stating the quantity of cannabis or cannabis extracts required, and the purpose for which it will be used.

Once the documents have been received the OMC will draw up a contract in duplicate, and an invoice for delivering the cannabis. The OMC will then apply to the Healthcare and Youth Care Inspectorate (Inspectie voor de Gezondheidszorg en Jeugd) for an export licence. Once the signed contract has been returned, the cannabis or cannabis extracts can be delivered by the OMC. Costs include the application fee for the export licence and contract and transport costs. On CDB products you can read more here.

The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs

Here is another article from the treaty that could potentially affect cannabis importation (in terms of rules). It’s is unclear how the Duth government applies this Convention. With regard to sales of cannabis through licensed coffeeshops this article is not applied.

Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, as amended by the Protocol amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.Article 21  Limitation of manufacture and importation

The total of the quantities of each drug manufactured and imported by any country or territory in any one year shall not exceed the sum of the following:

  1. (a) The quantity consumed; within the limit of the relevant estimate, for medical and scientific purposes;
  2. (b) The quantity used, within the limit of the relevant estimate, for the manufacture of other drugs, of preparations in Schedule III, and of substances not covered by this Convention;
  3. (c) The quantity exported;
  4. (d) The quantity added to the stock for the purpose of bringing that stock up to the level specified in the relevant estimate; and
  5. (e) The quantity acquired within the limit of the relevant estimate for special purposes.

The specialized attorney’s of Blenheim are happy to assist you with regulatory compliance for cannabis.