Marijuana and Cannabis News
|Kush And Orange Juice|
|Yeah, it's nice being able to buy connoisseur-grade cannabis and smoke it on the premises in Dutch coffee shops. But the conservative government is trying to ban foreigners from the shops with the unpopular Weed Pass.|
The Dutch "Weed Pass," which in effect would have banned foreigners from the famed "coffee shops" which sell cannabis in the Netherlands, took a big hit Tuesday as the Ministry of Security and Justice announced that cities may decide what action -- if any -- they take against shops which defy the ban.
"Municipalities may decide themselves what sort of action they take against coffeeshops which choose not to comply with the weedpass," the Ministry announced.
"Many municipalities are opposed to the weedpass and will therefore not be quick in closing the shops," writes Dutch blogger Peter Lunk at Coffeeshop Nieuws. Many mayors and cities have been opposed to the Weed Pass, pointing out that it could have a negative economic impact, and won't even consider closing their coffee shops, according to Lunk.
|Miss High Times|
|Dutch blogger Peter Lunk: "Many municipalities are opposed to the weedpass and will therefore not be quick in closing the shops"|
"If they did, they know for sure that the soft-drugs trade would go underground, that illegal dealers would take over their marketplaces, and nuisance and criminality would be the consequence," Lunk writes. "Now, because the local councils have the last say on the sanctions they decide to implement, arbitrariness looms."
It's only two months until the day of reckoning. On May 1, the "club card" is to be introduced in coffee shops in the provinces of Brabant, Limburg and Zeeland, as part of a gradual roll-out of the plan. The coffee shops will then only be allowed to sell cannabis to a maximum of 2,000 "registered members" per year, all of whom must have Dutch passports.
The short-sighted move -- made by conservative Dutch authorities supposedly to reduce "drug tourism" -- will likely instead just drive much of the marijuana trade underground wherever it is implemented.
"The open criticisms against [Minister] Opstelten's hated weedpass have not subsided since it was first introduced," Lunk writes. "The criticisms have not only come from coffeeshops in numerous cities on the border and in Amsterdam, which envision a drastic reduction in revenue, but also from the municipalities too.
"Venlo, for example, is opposed, as well as den Bosch, Breda, Eindhoven and Tilburg," Lunk writes. "They fear that the illegal trade in soft drugs will increase as a result of the member registration policy, which will have consequences for the quality of life in their cities.
"There are currently rumors circulating in Venlo that criminal organizations are buying up houses from which they can run their illegal soft-drugs businesses," Lunk writes.
|Willie Wortel Coffee Shop in Haarlem. Haarlem coffee shop owners have said they will refuse to implement the Weed Pass.|
First to announce their refusal to implement the Weed Pass were the coffee shop owners of Haarlem. A recent survey of the Haarlem coffee shops revealed that only 12 percent of customers would agree to register. "The shops cannot survive on this income," Lunk writes.
Haarlem officials plan to closely watch how the initial introduction of the new Weed Pass law goes in the southern Netherlands over the coming months. (The gradual roll-out begins only in the southern part of the country.)
"We here in Haarlem must decide what course of action we will take," said Peter van Renske, spokesperson for the city. "The local council has the last word in this, as they define the sanctions."
The most drastic measure -- closing the coffee shops -- seems unlikely, according to Lunk, as the marijuana trade would then simply be driven underground.
But Dutch authorities say the law is the law, and it must be obeyed. "The mayor is responsible and he should take action," said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Security and Justice. "They can close the coffeeshops as a last resort."
"Something is decided at the national level, and the local government gets saddled with it," Lunk writes. "And now it gets really interesting. As it has been left to the municipalities, it could well be that Mayor Hoes of Maastricht takes a different course of action against unruly coffeeshops than Mayor Rombouts of Rotterdam."
According to Lunk, it's still unclear how the cities in the southern Netherlands will handle disobedient coffee shop owners who refused to implement the Weed Pass. Mayors, the Security Minister and public prosecutors are discussing the matter.
"It is doubtful whether a refusal to introduce the weedpass will harm public order and security and therefore be cause for a coffeeshop to close," Lunk writes. "Lengthy legal procedures and court cases are expected, in which judges can provide legal clarity on the matter."