By Emma Beswick, Euronews

A "weed experiment" that could see cannabis that has been grown legally and tested for quality to be sold in Dutch "coffee shops" has moved one step closer to fruition, the country's health ministry has said.

The Netherlands has a tolerance policy for marijuana, which means while the distribution, supply and production of the drug are illegal, coffee shops are not prosecuted for selling it. 

This, however, means the stores buy cannabis illegally and thus it is often of unknown quality.

Today, cannabis is sold openly in 573 coffee shops, operating in 103 of the 380 municipalities in the Netherlands, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) —one of the EU’s decentralised agencies.

The Dutch government declared its intention to permit a four-year experiment on the legal supply of cannabis to coffee shops in 2017, to be carried out in up to ten medium to large-sized municipalities.