The use of cannabis extracts, such as 'wax', which are consumed using the so-called dabbing technique is on the increase worldwide. In the Netherlands, this issue is presently the subject of discussion. The Dutch association of cannabis retailers, BCD, for instance, urges all coffeeshop owners to stop selling wax concentrates.
The use of cannabis extracts, such as ‘wax’, which are consumed using the so-called dabbing technique is on the increase worldwide. In the Netherlands, this issue is presently the subject of discussion, with the BCD, the Dutch association of cannabis retailers, urging all coffeeshop owners to stop selling wax concentrates with immediate effect in order to protect the industry.
Cannabis wax and Butane Hash Oil (BHO) are two common names for concentrates that are used when dabbing. These concentrates can contain up to 75 or even 90% active substances, as compared to about 30% in the dried flowers of very potent cannabis strains. If the wax is produced properly, dabbing is a pure and potent alternative to numerous other means of consumption.
List I and List II
As the Netherlands is experiencing an increase in the use of cannabis concentrates through dabbing, the country needs to provide an answer to the question whether or not this means of consumption is in line with the celebrated Dutch policy of tolerance.
More specifically, the debate focusses on high percentages of THC, one of the active substances in cannabis, and is fuelled by the pending introduction of new legislation, the so-called ‘15% THC standard’. If adopted, the law will ban the sale of cannabis containing more than 15% THC. As a result, cannabis with more than 15% THC will be classified as a hard drug.
At present, the Dutch Opium Law distinguishes between THC-containing botanical drug products and hash oil, a distinction dating from 1976 when the tolerance policy had just been adopted. Therefore, under the Opium Law, oil is considered a hard drug and classified on List I, while cannabis and hash are soft drugs, classified on List II.
Botanical plant parts
In 2010, the Dutch High Court ruled on the case of Ice-O-Lator hash, a type of hash which contains high concentrations of THC, not dissimilar to the ones found in hash oil. However, the High Court judges ruled that this may not serve as a deciding factor in terms of determining whether a product should be classified on List I or II, but that this should exclusively be decided on the basis of whether or not a cannabis product contains botanical (plant) parts. Ice-O-Lator hash does contain botanical parts, whereas properly produced wax is free of botanical residue.
Stop selling wax
Based on the above, the BCD has written to all coffeeshop owners asking them to stop selling wax and similar products. In the letter, BCD chairman Jan Goos says, among other things that “The sale of wax is providing the authorities with an additional argument to ban the sale of cannabis containing more than 15% THC, a measure which would be the next step in the deconstruction of the Dutch soft drugs and coffeeshop policy. In my view, it is inconceivable that the industry itself would be contributing to this demolition policy by selling wax.”
BCD consultant Maurice Veldman LLD, in his column for the Dutch on-line cannabis magazine RollingStoned.nl, is of the opinion that “Legally, wax should be considered a dangerous drug because it doesn’t contain botanical parts, but does contain an extremely high percentage of THC and is therefore qualified as hash oil. For that reason, wax belongs on List I.”
Although Veldman is of the opinion that ultimately the ‘15% norm’ will not be introduced, he fears that town mayors will ban coffeeshops from selling wax. “The Mayor of The Hague has already written to all coffeeshop owners in the city, explicitly banning them from selling wax,” Veldman says.
While several countries, as well as states in the U.S., consider the use of cannabis oil and wax to be a productive method for administering (medicinal) cannabis, the Netherlands is standing by its unrealistic argumentation that the presence or absence of botanical parts in a product will determine whether it is a soft or a hard drug: a remnant of the policy of tolerance, which has long passed its best-before date. The policy was introduced 40 years ago as a temporary measure in anticipation of legalisation, at a time when these concentrates didn’t even exist. While elsewhere there are plenty of data and answers available with regard to regulation issues, the Dutch government, yet again, is displaying its shocking ignorance of the cannabis market and its lack of solutions to its challenges.
Sensi Seeds is keeping a close watch on the Dutch tolerance policy and will report on it as soon as there is news.