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Dutch Cities Try a ‘Weed Test’ to Fix a Quirk of Legal Cannabis

Criminal gangs have prospered from the Netherlands’ ban against growing marijuana. Can city-approved cannabis freeze them out of a legalized trade?
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Steven Senne/AP

The Netherlands’ permissive approach to cannabis may be well-known, but the country’s coffeeshops (as cannabis cafés are called) have long grappled with a head-scratching contradiction.

While the coffeshops’ trade is perfectly legal, that’s not the case for growing and producing the cannabis products they sell. Those actions can be punished with stiff fines, forcing the industry underground and making it difficult for authorities to monitor the quality of products sold to consumers. Perhaps more importantly, it means that the growers who supply the products often, perhaps inevitably, have links to organized crime.