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.
The introduction of the 'weed pass' in the south of the Netherlands is leading to growing problems. Since 1 May, only Dutch residents are able to purchase soft drugs in coffeeshops. Foreigners are barred. In protest against the move, many coffeeshops in Maastricht and other southern Dutch cities have closed their doors. Foreign drug tourists and Dutch residents who don’t have a pass are heading further north. In cities in the weed pass area, like the eastern border town of Venlo, growing numbers of illegal drugs dealers are hanging out near coffeeshops. They’re harrassing not only drugs tourists but also local residents.
A week after a contentious rollout of a new Dutch law to stub out cannabis sales to foreigners, enforcement is in disarray as some police are untrained and several coffee shops have closed in protest. Drug tourists are simply dodging the "cannabis card" law by heading elsewhere in the country for their fix, since the rule has entered into force in just three southern Dutch provinces so far. "It takes time for everything to be put into place," Justice and Safety Ministry spokeswoman Charlotte Menten admitted.
For visitors to the Netherlands who enjoy the relaxing effects of marijuana, life has just become a little less easy going, particularly for those Germans living just west of the border who used to just pop over for a fresh supply. New legislation is restricting the sale of cannabis to residents of the country and banning tourists from purchasing the drug at the coffee shops, famous for selling it.
There are mounting protests in the south of the Netherlands against the introduction of the 'weed pass'. As of 1 May, coffeeshops in southern Dutch cities are only allowed to sell marijuana and hashish to Dutch residents with a special card. Foreign tourists are prohibited from purchasing weed. Coffeeshop owners in Maastricht and other southern Dutch cities are up in arms about the new regulation. In Maastricht, 12 of the 13 coffeeshops closed their doors in protest.
New Dutch laws to stub out the sale of cannabis to foreign dope tourists kicked in Tuesday -- and were met with defiance from southern coffee shops including in Maastricht. At least one coffee shop in the southern city continued sales to Belgian and German buyers in contravention of the new "cannabis card" rules -- and was promptly slapped with a police warning to stop sales to non-residents within 24 hours. (See also: Protestors just say no to Dutch cannabis ban)