Exemptions from the opium act

The Opium Act makes a distinction between category I drugs (hard drugs) and category II drugs (soft drugs). The Act states that it is an offence to:

  • take drugs of either category across the borders of the territory of The Netherlands;
  • prepare, treat, process, sell, supply, provide or transport drugs of either category;
  • possess drugs of either category; or
  • manufacture drugs of either category.

The Opium Act provides a list of category I and category II drugs.

You may apply for an exemption from this prohibition. This exemption is called an opiumontheffing in Dutch.

Who can apply for an exemption?

Exemptions are intended for businesses or agencies wishing to work with drugs referred to in the Opium Act.

Under certain conditions the prohibition does not apply to pharmacists, dispensing GPs and veterinarians. Nor does it apply to government-affiliated agencies, or to persons or agencies that stock drugs for medicinal or dentistry purposes or for their own medicinal use (see article 5 of the Opium Act).

Exemptions are granted for the following purposes:

  • public health
  • animal health (with a distinction between exemptions for training sniffer dogs and other exemptions)
  • academic or chemical analytical research
  • training
  • trade-related purposes

What is the legal basis for exemption?

 Section 8, paragraph 1 (a-c) of the Opium Act.