History of CBD and Cannabis: The Netherlands
In terms of cannabis legislation, the Dutch represent one of the most unique examples of cannabis decriminalization and legalization measures. Although cannabis isn’t technically legal in the Netherlands, law enforcement, residents, and the central government have effectively created legal tolerance for the substance.
Cannabis, CBD, and the Netherlands
Technically, cannabis is illegal for recreational and medical use in the Netherlands. However, it’s been functionally decriminalized for all forms of personal use and recreational consumption is largely tolerated. In fact, cannabis is easily found in restaurants, coffee shops, and urban centers. It’s not uncommon to see individuals consuming cannabis in public spaces without fear of legal repercussions.
Interestingly, the Netherlands was one of the first countries to officially ban cannabis in the twentieth century. In 1913, cannabis was criminalized throughout the Netherlands after a series of bans in Dutch colonies. At the time, lawmakers were concerned about the growing role of cannabis consumption in regions of colonial Africa. Rumors arose that colonial rulers were involved in the cultivation of cannabis. Moreover, cannabis began to be associated with lawlessness, laziness, and violence throughout the entire world.
Later on, cannabis was banned in Dutch Indonesia in 1927, which has caused a profound effect on the island nation’s cannabis policy ever since. In the early seventies, the Dutch government jumped onto the short-lived trend of cannabis decriminalization. Following the lead of several Western nations, the Dutch separated cannabis from a list of dangerous narcotic substances.
Officials believed cannabis was not as dangerous as cocaine or heroin, which represented a huge break from international narcotics policy. Whereas other nations quickly reversed their softening position, the Dutch pressed on with further reform.
Since the mid-seventies, it’s been functionally legal to sell cannabis in urban centers. Many local coffee shops openly sell marijuana edibles and buds. Even though the police are technically allowed to confiscate cannabis, most enforcement is very lax throughout the Netherlands. The reform in policy in the seventies did little to change residents’ and law agencies’ behavior, but instead made cannabis sales and use somewhat more legal.
Similarly, medical cannabis occupies a quasi-legal position in the country. Since the early 2000s, five different approved prescription drugs have featured the cannabinoid known as cannabidiol. More commonly known as CBD, cannabidiol is one of the many non-intoxicating and non-addictive compounds found in strains of cannabis.
Since then, even more forms of medical cannabis have hit the legal prescription drug market. It’s likely that the Dutch will further implement more robust legalization measures in the next few years.