On 15 December, the Netherlands started officially with the long-awaited Cannabis experiment to regulate the supply chain for coffee shops. We went to the first participating coffee shops to investigate the products of the first three regulated cannabis growers.
The Experiment kicked off early in the morning by the outgoing minister of Health, Ernst Kuipers by scanning the first box of controlled-grown cannabis in a coffee shop the Baron situated in Breda. He was accompanied by an army of national and international press reporting the historical event. Breda was the first of two cities, together with Tilburg, to start the experiment, with about 15 coffee shops.
The first regulated growers
Three licensed growers are producing and delivering cannabis at the moment from the ten appointed. FYTA was the first one, followed by Canadelaar and Aardachtig.
FYTA has been in the news regularly, advocating for the Experiment to start over a year now. With its indoor facility in Waalwijk, it’s one of the closed-situated growers in the Experiment in Breda and Tilburg. FYTA’s cannabis is grown indoors, and recent media publications show that they have a wide variety of cannabis genetics. @fyta_group
Canadelaar has been one of the latest growers to get a license and brings its experience from the Canadian market. Cannadelaar is present internationally and grows mainly in greenhouses.
Aardachtig is a grower operating in the polder area in the Netherlands. Aardachtig has indoor and greenhouse grow facilities and is run by a mix of people coming from the horticulture area and cannabis scene.
After visiting some coffee shops in Breda and Tilburg, it becomes clear that the Baron in Tilburg is, for now, the only coffee shop that sells the cannabis produced from all three growers. All other coffee shops that participate sell products from FYTA only. We can only guess why that is.
Cannadelaar and Aardachtig might not have enough products ready. This can be the case when they do not pass the tests by a government-appointed lab. The quality of the products may not be good enough, or prices may be too expensive. We may get a clearer image of this when we compare the products from the different growers and have a closer look at their pricing.
Breda prohibits the sale of cannabis to tourists. Generally, this means better prices and quality than a city selling to tourists. This is directly noticeable on the menu of the coffee shop de Baron. The regulated cannabis prices vary from 9 to 11 euros.
They dedicated the whole right side of their menu to the regulated cannabis. The top starts with the grower FYTA and lists three strains. Fritter Licker, Ice Cream Cake, and Amnesia Core Cut. Canadalaar is next with four strains. Wedding Cake, Lemon Zkittlez, Candy Store, Black Cherry Punch. Aardachtig has the list of the most strains with Limun Chulo, RS11, Fruit Kizz, Blue Kushy, Pink Sandy, and Permanent Laughter.
Everything is packaged in quantities of 1 gram. Coffee shops can only sell 5 grams per day to a single customer. We weren’t able to test everything because of this. Some strains were sold out as well. Let’s have a look at a few of them individually.
The Fritterlicker (10 euro)
Looks: (4/5) Compact, nice-looking buds, minimal leaves, milky trichomes.
Smell: (5/5) Intense sweet honey with a strong orange scent and lemonade undertone.
Taste: (4/5) Strong sweet and sour lemonade taste
The Ice Cream Cake (10 euro)
Looks: (5/5) Strong hard nug with swollen calyxes and minimal leaves.
Smell: (4/5) Sweet ice cream and a little earthy.
Taste: (4/5) Strong sour, spicey, earthy, and sweet.
The packaging (4/5)
The red bags look good and are pretty straightforward to use. You rip off the seal on the top that opens the bag, and you can then close it with the seal strip. The 1-gram bag isn’t too big but will take up some space when purchasing 5 grams.
Bags of bigger quantities are suspected to follow soon by all growers. The sticker and print are solid and easy to read; it won’t fade easily. Contact information and a QR code lead to more product information and a prescription added by the government.
Lemon Zkittle (8 euro)
Appearance: (1/5) Flowery looks a little like outside-grown cannabis. There are lots of leaves and brownish trichomes; the bud looks underdeveloped.
Smell: (1/5) Hay with a citrus undertone
Taste: (1/5) Woody, hay, lemon, bitter
Candy Store (8 euro)
Looks:(1/5) The Candy Store is quite dark and again looks like a window grown. I also found some microseeds and fibers.
Smell: (1/5) Wood, fermented leaves with a faint cherry and citrus undertone
Taste:(2/5) Wood, popcorn, spicey, sour
The packaging (1/5)
The bags from Canadelaar look great, with the same opening principle rip-off seal. They are a little big for how much bud is inside. The bag contains all the information, including the QR code and government prescription info. We just noticed the print vanishing from the bag in some places. On further inspection, you can rub it off with your thumb. We also noticed the packing and harvest dates are missing.
Fruit Kizz (10 euro)
Looks: (3/5) Overall, the look is fine, except for the light bleach spot. Frosty and a few leaves here and there.
Smell: (1/5) A very faint fresh wood smell
Taste: (2/5) Sour, light sweet and woody taste.
Blue Kushy (10 euro)
Looks: (4/5) Good looking bud, nice frosty and small pointy calyxes.
Smell: (1/5) The smell is woody and green
Taste: (2/5) Woody and spicey taste combined with a nutty undertone.
The packaging (2/5)
Aardachtig is the only grower that uses glass for flowers. The glass jars look great and also carry 1 gram. Unfortunately, the cannabis comes packed in a clear seal bag with labels, making it a huge package for only 1 gram of bud. Buying 5 grams would require a bag to carry it all. To open the bag, you must rip off the seal containing info like the THC and CBD percentages and the government prescription QR Code. Doing so destroys most of the information.
There is a lot more ground to be cleared. There haven’t been any hash, edibles, or pre-rolled joints from the three growers.
We suspect these products will slowly become available in the upcoming months as more growers are expected to make their products available as the experiment develops. Prices from all growers are competitive all through and may vary depending on the coffee shop and city. We think quality will improve overall in time, just like the diversity in genetics.
For now, FYTA seems to produce the nicest flowers. They are tasty and look and smell the best, in our opinion. FYTA also seems to have different strains in different cities and coffee shops. Making it worth your time to visit a few different ones. Their packaging is simple and clear.
Canadelaar seems to need the most improvement. The outdoor-looking cannabis is not properly developed or cured and is slowly fermenting. Their packaging looks good, but the print is easily rubbed off. A lot to work on in the coming months.
The flowers of Aardachig look promising but lack taste and smell. The packing date suggests they didn’t have enough time to cure properly. Hopefully, that will change with the next batches that come available. The glass jars are nice, but they come at the cost of valuable information to the customer.
We will follow the developments here and report back when we are a month or two into the Closed Coffeeshop Chain Experiment.
For now, the Netherlands finally sells controlled and tested cannabis. Not legal, but regulated.
To be continued!