Tourists will not be banned from a majority of the Netherlands’ cannabis cafes, despite new residency requirements which came into effect on January 1, according to a survey by NOS television. Coffee shops are required by law to ensure only official residents of the Netherlands are allowed to buy cannabis. However, the legislation gives scope for "local circumstances" to be taken into account. A survey by The Amsterdam Herald found more than a dozen municipalities are not planning to enforce the rule that customers must show evidence that they live in the Netherlands. (See also: Foreigners still welcome in Dutch coffeeshops)
Amsterdam's mayor said he would formally ban students from smoking cannabis at school, making the city in the Netherlands the first to do so. Eberhard van der Laan's introduction of a law is the result of the country's drug policy. Under the "tolerance" principle, cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but police cannot prosecute for possession of small amounts of the drug.
The Dutch government is planning to classify strong strains of marijuana and cannabis as a Class A drug alongside heroin and cocaine. Coffee shops will only be able to offer cannabis with a THC level of below 15%. More details of the government's plans to drop the controversial membership scheme for coffee shops were also explained. While coffee shops will only be open to people with official documents which show they live in the Netherlands, it will be up to local authorities to decide how to introduce the new rules. (See also: Cannabis pass abolished? Not really)
Tourists can continue to use Amsterdam’s 220 cannabis cafes, even if they are not resident in the Netherlands, the Volkskrant quotes the capital’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan as saying. The new cabinet is pressing ahead with banning non-residents from the country's cannabis cafes, but says enforcing the ban will be carried out together with local councils, taking local policy into account. This means the city can take its own line.
The new coalition government of conservative liberals (VVD) and social-democrats (PvdA) presented its coalition agreement on Monday. They agreed to abolish the cannabis pass, but access to coffeeshops remains limited to residents of the Netherlands. Customers need to identify themselves with an identity card or a residence permit together with a certificate of residence. Non-resident foreigners are still banned. In other words, there will be no cannabis pass, but the policy continues.
The new cabinet plans to press ahead with restricting access to the country's cannabis cafes to local residents but is dropping the introduction of compulsory registration of users via a membership card system. 'The wietpas will go but entrance to coffee shops will be restricted to residents with ID or a residency permit and a local council statement of residency,’ the coalition agreement states. (See also: Cannabis pass abolished? Not really)
The compromise would end the obligation on cannabis cafe owners to register users and would allow people to buy soft drugs all over the country. However 'foreigners' would be refused entry. Labour and the VVD are currently in talks on forming a new government and the wietpas is one of the areas where agreement still has to be reached. The VVD wants to press on with the new system but the Labour party is opposed. (See also: Soft drugs in the Netherlands)
Maastricht - formerly a mecca for drug tourists from across western Europe - has called for police reinforcements to handle "aggressive" street pushers, who have taken over almost all trade in marijuana and cannabis since authorities introduced tighter controls on legal outlets. The Dutch town's Mayor Onno Hoes wants to double the number of dedicated police officers in order to control the black market, which has benefited from the region's draconian "weed pass" law.
Contrariamente alle aspettative, le elezioni olandesi di settembre non sono state decisive per il futuro dei coffeeshop. I partiti a favore delle restrizioni ai coffeeshop (o addirittura per la loro abolizione) hanno ottenuto 77 seggi su 150, mentre i contrari al cannabis pass e/o a favore della fornitura legale di cannabis ai coffeeshop ne hanno ottenuti 73. E per governare c’è bisogno di una coalizione.
The Breda city council is to urge the new coalition cabinet to scrap the introduction of a members only system for the country’s cannabis cafes, arguing it has created more problems than it has solved. Labour councillors have taken the lead in writing to the cabinet negotiators Henk Kamp and Wouter Bos, urging them to focus on solving problems associated with soft drugs rather than create new ones. The four big cities, Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht, are opposed to the introduction of the card system. (See also: Government says it will press on with cannabis card plans)
Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said the cannabis club membership card does not work and will never work. He said the cannabis pass just causes more nuisance. He thinks there will be more street dealing of soft drugs once it is introduced throughout the Netherlands on January 1. In the southern provinces, local Liberal politicians are asking party leader Mark Rutte to scrap the national introduction of the pass during his talks with the Labour party on the formation of a new cabinet. Aboutaleb has now joined their ranks.
The 2012 Dutch elections were hailed as decisive for the future of the coffeeshops, where the sale of small amounts of cannabis is tolerated. The result is inconclusive. The parties in favour of restricting the coffeeshops or outright abolishing them got 77 of the 150 seats, while those against the recently introduced 'cannabis pass' and/or in favour of regulating the supply of cannabis to the coffeeshops got 73. However, the issue is not that straightforward given that in the Netherlands no single party has an absolute majority and a coalition government has to be formed.
When the Netherlandsgoes to the polls on Wednesday, the result could hinge on one, previously overlooked section of the electorate: the stoner vote. More than 350 Dutch coffee shops have thrown their weight behind a grassroots campaign in support of the leftwing Socialist Party (SP), which has pledged to end the political crackdown on shops that sell marijuana. The stakes are high: many believe that the parliamentary elections will be make-or-break day for the Dutch coffee shops.
Locals in Maastricht should no longer have to formally register as marijuana users to buy soft drugs from the city’s cannabis cafes, mayor Onno Hoes said in a letter to councillors. Since May 1, cannabis cafes in the south of the country have been turned into member-only clubs in an effort to keep out foreigners. Only locals, who can prove they live in the area, are allowed to sign up for membership. Hoes says the number of foreigners trying to buy soft drugs has fallen so sharply that the membership cards are no longer necessary.
With slogans like "Don't let your vote go up in smoke!", owners of the free-wheeling cafes where bags of hashish are sold alongside cups of coffee are mounting a get-out-the-stoner-vote campaign ahead of next week's Dutch election. The campaigners are calling on their sometimes apathetic dope smoking clientele to get out and support political parties that oppose the recently introduced "weed pass" that is intended to rein in the cafes known as coffee shops and close them altogether to foreign tourists.
Marije Wouters, Annemieke Benschop, Margriet van Laar, Dirk J. Korf
10 July 2012
The aim of this paper is to assess the influence of coffee shop availability on the prevalence and intensity of cannabis use, as well as the effectiveness of the ‘separation of markets’ policy. A convenience sample of nightlife visitors and a sub-selection of previous year cannabis users were used for analyses on cannabis and hard drugs use. Logistic regression analyses showed that coffee shop proximity does not seem to be linked to prevalence of cannabis use or intensity of use. In addition, proximity of coffee shops does not seem to be linked directly to hard drugs use.
The new rules affecting the sale of cannabis in coffeeshops in three southern Dutch provinces are having an adverse effect according to a new study. The "weed pass" was introduced in the regions on May 1 this year. The introduction of an obligatory membership card for coffeeshop customers has resulted in a sharp increase in the illegal street sale of cannabis and the emergence of a large and elusive network of telephone numbers that can be called for the supply of the drug.
A former government adviser on drugs has told MPs that alcohol consumption would fall by as much as 25% if Dutch-style cannabis "coffee shops" were introduced in Britain. Prof David Nutt also told the Commons home affairs committee that he stood by his claim that horse-riding was more dangerous than taking ecstasy, despite the fact that the comparison triggered his sacking as chairman of the advisory committee on the misuse of drugs (ACMD).
Almost a decade after extensive police raids in 2004 that were intended to clear out the drug dealers in Christiania, police estimate that the trade in cannabis is as strong as it was before. Residents explain that while the trade might have returned, the atmosphere is quite different from the days before the 2004 invasion by police, with greater levels of violence and intimidation. “The hash trade today is just as open as it was in 2004 and up on the same level. We believe that a billion kroner is sold every year,” according to Lau Thygesen, of the Copenhagen Police’s department for organised crime.
The pilot project to have state-run hash and marijuana dispensaries in Copenhagen received a setback after the Justice Ministry turned down the City Council's request to experiment with regulating cannabis in the city. In a letter to the Council, the social-democrat Minister of Justice, Morten Bødskov, wrote that the government will not permit the experiment as they believe that regulating hash and marijuana would likely increase both availability and use, which was unwise given the range of side effects that cannabis has been linked to.