Dutch Justice minister Ivo Opstelten announced that the controversial ‘weed pass’ is to be scrapped with immediate effect.

In a letter to parliament he also said it would be up to municipalities to determine and enforce the regulations governing coffeeshops in their area.

The so-called weed pass was introduced in the south of the Netherlands last May. It was initially designed to stop ‘drug tourists’ from Germany, Belgium and France from crossing the Dutch border to buy cannabis. Yet, the new regulations meant that coffeeshops in the region became closed clubs, admitting only Dutch residents who had to register for a special pass.

The mesure was due to take effect in the rest of the Netherlands at the beginning of 2013. However, the introduction of the pass saw an immediate increase in illegal street dealing and other drug-related problems in the southern province.  As a result, the mayors of many Dutch cities have been urging the government to reconsider so that people will not have to register to buy cannabis.

Officially customers still have to show ID to prove they are Dutch citizens, but the authorities in large cities such as Amsterdam are not expected to enforce this rule.

source: rnw.nl


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The Dutch government axed its proposed ‘weed pass’, meaning that coffeeshops will not become members clubs, and that there will be no government database containing the names of those who frequent them. Reason to celebrate, although there is a catch for those smokers from further afield that look to Amsterdam as the cannabis cornucopia. Mayor Van der Laan of Amsterdam and Minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten are at odds about what exactly was meant by the recent withdrawal of the weed pass proposal

Before September this year, when the VVD (conservative) cabinet held full power, they initiated the weed pass in the south Holland, with eyes to spread it across the nation on January 1st 2013. Mayor Van der Laan opposed the measures, stating that:

“The 1.5 million tourists will not say, ‘Then no more marijuana,’ They will swarm all over the city looking for drugs. This would lead to more robberies, quarrels about fake drugs and no control of the quality of drugs on the market. Everything we have worked toward would be lost to misery.”

Meeting popular derision in the south where the mesure has already been implemented, Minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten conceded that individual cities will retain the right to have the policies ‘tailored’ to their own requirements. Mayor Van der Laan assumes this will give him the right to tailor the policy out of existence in Amsterdam; whether or not this is the case remains to be seen. This could bring an end to the worries of the Dutch capitals’ cannabis industry, but could this confidence be premature?

A spokesman for the ministry of justice told news agency ANP that Van der Laan had not had permission from Opstelten to ignore the new rules and that the mayor jumped to conclusions. While the approach to each city would be tailor-made, it had not yet been decided how the new rules would be implemented, the spokesman said. So while most celebrate the death of the infamous weed pass, there is still a chance of change to the current system of tolerance.

Dutch coffeeshop owners went to court last week in a last-ditch bid to block a government plan to stop foreigners from buying marijuana in the Netherlands.

Lawyers representing the coffeeshops oppose what would be the most significant change in decades to the country’s famed soft drug tolerance: turning marijuana cafes into ‘members-only’ clubs open solely to Dutch residents. Members would only be able to get into the coffee shops by registering for a ‘weed pass’, and the shops would only be allowed a maximum of 2,000 members.

The move comes into force in the south of the country on May 1 and is scheduled to roll out nationwide on Jan. 1, 2013. Whether it will be enforced in Amsterdam remains to be seen. The city has strongly opposed the pass idea and Mayor Eberhard van der Laan says he wants to negotiate a workable compromise with the country’s Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten.

Lawyers for the cafe owners told a judge at The Hague District Court that the move — aimed at reining in problems caused by foreign ‘drug tourists’ who buy marijuana in the Netherlands and resell it in neighboring countries — is “clearly discriminatory”.

Lawyer Ilonka Kamans argued that Dutch drug policy gives citizens “the fundamental right to the stimulant of their choosing” and should not deprive visiting foreigners of the same right.

Government lawyer Eric Daalder defended the measures. “Fighting criminality and drug tourism is a reasonable justification” for the crackdown, Daalder told the court. He said the government wants to bring coffeeshops back to what they were originally intended to be: “small local stores selling to local people.”

Marc Josemans of the Easy Going coffee shop in Maastricht said that if the courts April 27 ruling goes against them, the local coffee shops plan to disregard the ruling, forcing the government to prosecute one of them in a test case.

Though the weed pass policy was designed to resolve traffic problems facing southern cities, later studies have predicted that the result of the system would be a return to street dealing and an increase in petty crime — which was the reason the tolerance policy came into being in the 1970s in the first place.

Marijuana cafes are a major tourist draw for Amsterdam, with some estimates saying a third of visitors try the drug, perhaps in between visiting the Van Gogh Museum and other major attractions.
According to U.N. data, the use of marijuana by Dutch nationals is in the mid-range of norms for developed countries — higher than in Sweden or Japan but lower than in Britain, France, or the United States.

17 September 2012: A week after the Dutch national election, two opposing parties are rejoicing victory, although with the mutual bitter pill of being bound to work together. The conservative-liberal VVD (the party that introduced the infamous ‘weed pass’ in the south Netherlands), have won alongside the social-democratic PvdA, a party in favor of cannabis legalization.

Out of a total number of seats around 150, the parties form an 80-seat majority coalition, meaning that soon they will have to have come to an agreement on cannabis policy, despite their vastly differing views on one of the most hotly contended issues of this election. The PvdA has a policy that most smokers will love. They wish to abolish the current (confusing) legal state of marijuana: out with toleration, and in with legalization. The coffeeshops of modern day Holland would give way to as-yet undefined weed shops, with the premise being similar regulations to that of tobacco and alcohol.

In another boost to the hopes of the liberalization of cannabis in the Netherlands, Onno Hoes, Mayor of Maastricht (the first city in the south to introduce the restrictive weed pass laws), has changed his mind on the issue, since the policies met resistance from locals, and increased street-level drug dealing in the city. The VVD may be questioning the regulations it once proposed, and with the progressive changes of the PvdA also on the table, this is definitely an interesting time in the story of Dutch weed law.

It looks like the Southern three provinces of The Netherlands will have to ban tourists from the coffeeshops from May 1st, and force Dutch customers to register themselves by applying for a so-called ‘Weed Pass’.

If all coffeeshops in Limburg, Zeeland and Brabant will actually comply with the new policy remains to be seen. Several shops have stated they will not enforce the new rules in their establishments. Coffeeshop owners say that by not comlying they hope to provoke an indictment that would give them a change to attest in court to the negative consequences of the implementation of this new policy.

The fate of the coffeeshops in the other nine Dutch provinces is uncertain. Following the collapse of the Dutch cabinet earlier this week, the implementation of the ‘Weed Pass’ and subsequent ban of foreigners in the rest of the country, due January 1st 2013, will be preceded by early elections, now planned for September. With cannabis law reform-favoring parties such as the Green Party and the Social-Liberals leading the polls, the question is; will the North of the Netherlands have make its escape?

As always, we’ll keep you posted.

After current Prime Minister of the Netherlands Marke Rutte handed in his governments resignation to Queen Beatrix this April, the general election has been moved forward to 12 September this year.
It is Rutte’s administration that introduced the widely criticised ‘weed pass’ in the southern three provinces in the Netherlands.

With less than a month to go until the elections, the Dutch Socialist Party (SP), lead by Emile Roemer, is ahead in the polls by seven seats of Mark Rutte’s Conservative Liberal Party (VVD).

The SP campaign program states that they want to legalize and regulate the cannabis industry, with the view that there is more merit in prevention by educating and informing the public of the effects of alcohol and drug use.

Just a few of their promises to the Dutch voter:

Better information on the effects of alcohol and drug use for youth and their parents.
The cultivation and sale of soft drugs for the Dutch market legalized and regulated to reduce nuisance and crime. Quality controle and education need to be improved. We do not need a ‘weed pass’. Sales and production of hard drugs remain illegal.
There needs to be a greater awareness of the consequences of alcohol and drug use for youth and their parents. Clinics offer aftercare to young people hospitalized with alcohol poisoning.

The gap between these two parties and all their opponents is growing, and predictions are being made of a race to the finish by these two extremes of cannabis legislators.

In less than a month the future of cannabis in the Netherlands may well be determined!


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Muziek: Def P & Beatbusters, One World Band + special guests, Latin Quarter (UK), DJ Isis, Spirals, Antistresspoweet, King Shiloh Soundsystem, Doede De Jong.

Starting today, May 1st, Coffeeshops in the Southern three provinces of The Netherlands are supposed to ban foreign customers and register their Dutch costumers by ‘allowing’ them to apply for a co-called ‘weed pass’.
By 11:00 am this morning, Coffeeshop Easy Going in Maastricht (located in the country’s most Southern province, Limburg) began serving non-Dutch again.

Coffeeshop holder Marc Josemans had started the day refusing entry to about ten foreigners. He did this in compliance with the new rules. Upon refusal the foreigners went to the police station to report discrimination.
By deliberately serving tourist Josemans is committing an act of civil disobedience, which he hopes will lead to a legal procedure. “The Minister requires us to discriminate, and that is a violation of Article 1 of the Constitution.” he said.
Most other coffeeshops in Maastricht decided to keep their doors shut today.

In the neighboring province of Brabant, police raided coffeeshop Tourmaline in Tilburg this morning. Owner William Vugs refuses to register customers and sees no merit in a weed pass.

“Think of it as a protest”, Vugs told press, “Now that the police has been by to check, a trial process will follow.”
Tourmaline has closed its doors for the remainder of the day.

“Our point has been made”, Vught stated. “Now we’re going home to consider the new situation”.

The mayor of Rotterdam has spoken out against the planned ‘wietpas’ policy, stating that the new system will lead to a rise in illegal drug dealing and make the streets less safe. Ahmed Aboutaleb says the wietpas is flawed and will create more problems than it solves. With this statement mayor Aboutaleb joins in skepticism with his counterparts in Amsterdam, Haarlem, Eindhoven, Breda, Maastricht and most other Dutch cities that allow coffeeshops within their borders; all of which have stated earlier that they do not see any merit in the planned new policy.

Mayor Aboutaleb told reporters that the wietpas would undo decades of investment and planning in developing communities; he encouraged the new government to scrap the planned policy. ‘It doesn’t work and it’s not going to work. It leads in practice to more problems in the community.’ Aboutaleb also pointed out that, “Very few people want to co-operate with the wietpas. They don’t want to register. I can understand why a lot of people are concerned, they wonder what their details will be used for. It’s logical.”