Cannabis Liberation Day 2010

May 8 2010, 12-10pm, Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam
(see map: http://tinyurl.com/y8b6dt7)

Live Music, Speakers, Hemp Market and Cannabis Film Festival.
Cannabis Liberation Day is an initiative of the alliance of Dutch cannabis organizations (VOC)
and the Dutch cannabis consumers organization (VvCC).

“Prohibition Is No Solution!”

FREE ADMISSION

More Coffeeshops Find A New Home In Amsterdam

In addition to the coffeeshops, already listed in our earlier reports, two more cannabis establishments have found a new home at a different spot in the city.

The Bulldog Lounge on the Spui in Amsterdam center has been renewed as The Bulldog – Port 26 at Coenhavenweg 26 and is the newest addition to the famous Bulldog coffeeshop empire. Located in the Westport harbour of Amsterdam, you can enjoy a warm summer day on their large patio, with a smoke and a cold drink.

Coffeeshop Speakeasy has also moved from it’s former location in Amsterdam’s red light district to Eerste Oosterparkstraat 47, on the east side of town.

City Of Haarlem Presents Own Alternative To Failing Weed Pass

The city of Haarlem is currently working on an alternative to the seemingly doomed ‘Weed Pass’, that is meant to take effect nation-wide on the 1st January.

The so-called “wiet pas”, a controversial new registration policy, was designed by the Dutch government to limit coffeeshop clientele and to ban foreign customers from buying cannabis, but the new policy backfired in the southern three provinces of the Netherlands after it was introduced earlier this year. The mayor of Maastricht, the city on the southern border, has recently had a change of heart on the issue as the new policies led to an dramatic increase of nuisance and street-level drug dealing in his city.

According to the mayor of Haarlem, Bernt Schneiders, the alternative that Haarlem is now working on together with the local coffeeshops and the city’s health service, will function as a hallmark, guaranteeing good entrepreneurship, quality of products and compliance with (yet to be defined) standards. Particular points of focus will be the prevention of complaints from neighbours and the down-scaling of the coffeeshops. Mayor Schneiders told a local newspaper that the new certificate will force coffeeshops towards what he called the “ideal situation”, where they would be small businesses, serving locals. Exactly how the new hallmark would achieve this function he did not explain.

Business As Usual In The Cannabis Capital

Contrary to many rumors going around in international media, it is still as easy as ever for the non-Dutch to get high in Amsterdam! The ‘Weed Pass’ that everyone is talking about has come into effect, but only for three unfortunate provinces in the South (Limburg, Brabant, Zeeland), where locals now need a pass to purchase, and have a restricted ‘membership’ to a single coffeeshop. Foreign smokers are being turned away in an effort to stop the ‘Drug Tourism’ that is caused by the regulated sale of everyone’s favorite plant.

This pass is set to go into effect for the rest of Holland on January 1st 2013, but do not lose hope, smokers of the world! At any point until that time, the decision can be undone by the High Court, or the new Cabinet, which will be elected in September. Separate from any pressure from the Courts, this law is getting a lot of resistance from various major cities.

Their mayors worry that the new law will see a rise in an illegal black market cannabis industry (like everywhere else), the very reason tolerance policies were brought in 30 years ago.

Amsterdam has 223 coffee shops that are visited by about 1 million tourists annually. Tourism officials worry that the new law could have a devastating effect on the city. “The Dutch government has decided upon this for the whole of the Netherlands. Amsterdam doesn’t want it,” said Machteld Ligtvoet, spokeswoman for the Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board.

Hope for Future of Coffeeshops After Collapse of Conservative Dutch Government

Since the 1970s, the Netherlands’ legendary cannabis coffeeshops have been officially ‘tolerated’ by the government, meaning that while technically illegal, they’ve nonetheless operated openly, with hundreds of locations in Amsterdam alone selling limited amounts of marijuana to the public.

Despite their being tightly regulated and contributing considerably to the nation’s tourism industry, however, the conservative government has been steadily working to curtail or eliminate the coffeeshops, specifically by proposing a ‘Weed Pass’ plan that would restrict access to only citizens of the Netherlands willing to register as a member of a private club, with each coffeeshop allowed just 2,000 members.

The Weed Pass plan was passed into law in 2011 and was set to take effect starting with several locations in the south of the Netherlands on May 1 of this year. But this week several important developments have thrown the future of the law into doubt. Most notably, the coalition forming the Dutch government dissolved on April 23, amid an internal argument over budgetary priorities.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his cabinet have since officially resigned in advance of national elections to be held in the near future, with the possibility of a new government taking power that’s opposed to the Weed Pass. While at the same time, a group of Dutch coffeeshop owners and their allies have been fighting the Weed Pass in court, charging that the proposed new restrictions are in violation of the nation’s constitution.

According to Arjan Roskam, head of the Green House Coffeeshop and a driving force behind the lawsuit, “Clause I of the Dutch constitution states that all that are in The Netherlands will be treated equally, and that discriminating based on religion, lifestyle, political views, race, or gender on any ground is not allowed. For this reason, the national ban on tourists visiting coffeeshops would violate our constitutional rights here in the Netherlands by discriminating against foreigners.”

A ruling on that lawsuit is expected this Friday, April 27, just a few days before the new policy is set to go into effect. Meanwhile, opponents of the Weed Pass may have gotten a huge boost to their cause last week, when the Netherlands’ College for the Protection of Personal Data weighed in on the issue by writing to the Minister of Security and Justice, who created the new law.

The Dutch government’s privacy watchdog’s sternly worded letter challenged the “necessity, proportionality and subsidiary of the verifiable membership list.” and suggested that by collecting personal information from proposed members, the coffeeshops will be forced to unduly violate their privacy.

In the meantime, please rest assured that the proposed new law will not impact the upcoming 25th Annual High Times Cannabis Cup, to be held this November 18-22, just weeks before the ‘Weed Pass’ would go into effect in Amsterdam.

Source: High Times

Breda Welcomes 50 Percent More Coffeeshop Visitors

The city of Breda in the Southern province Brabant has seen the number of coffeeshops visitors rise by 50 percent since the shops in the neighboring towns Bergen op Zoom and Roosendaal closed their doors.

According to a city ordered “Area Crime and Nuisance Scan”, the closure of the coffeeshops in January of 2010 led to a 30 percent increase in the number of visitors to Breda coffeeshops. This has now risen to a 50 percent increase.

The data shows that over the last year, the rise in the number of visitors did not lead to an increase in reports of drug-related nuisance or crime.

Amsterdam Saves 44 Coffeeshops From Closure

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 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.

City of Breda votes out planned “Weed Pass”

The city council of Breda voted against the introduction of a so-called “Weed Pass” that has to prevent tourists from buying cannabis in the Netherlands.

With the vote Breda joins ranks with Maastricht, Den Bosch, Eindhoven, Amsterdam and other municipalities that already oppose the planned registration system for Dutch coffeeshop customers.

The Netherland’s minister of “Security and Justice”, Ivo Opstelten says he is still determent to have such a system implemented.

After the vote was taken a member of Breda’s city council told the present media: “It’s just isn’t a smart precaution”.

Amsterdam: “The coffeeshops should remain open for everyone”

The city of Amsterdam is not happy with intention of the new Dutch government to close coffeeshops for tourist and only allow cannabis sales to Dutch citizens who have a registration card.

Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan thinks that problems will arise if this new system would be introduced. Unlike the towns and small cities in the South of the Netherlands, Amsterdam has no problems with the millions of cannabis-loving tourists visiting every year. But the mayor is afraid that closing the coffeeshops nationwide would drive the trade underground. “It would turn the clock back 30 years when people bought their weed in the streets and there was no control on public safety or public health”, the mayor said.

Is The City Of Amsterdam Going To Grow Its Own Pot?

Dutch green-party, GroenLinks, is the big winner of the Amsterdam city and borough elections held Wednesday 3rd of March. After securing eight of the 28 seats in the counsel of the city’s most important and international borough, Amsterdam-Centrum, GroenLinks is ready to actualize their election promise to have the city of Amsterdam grow pot in order to supply the city’s many coffeeshops.

Under the drug policy of the Netherlands, the sale of cannabis products in small quantities is allowed by licensed coffeeshops. The coffeeshops (in Dutch written as one word) were introduced in the 1970s after the drugs laws changed with the explicit purpose of keeping hard and soft drugs separated.

There is an on-going contradiction concerning the Dutch coffeeshops, as they are allowed to sell cannabis over counter, but they are not allowed to purchase their own supply. There have been proposals for remedying the situation by, for instance, the GroenLink’s proposition of controlled growing of cannabis to replace imports of ambiguous legal status. It seems that with yesterday’s victory the green-party has its mandate to make this happen for the city of Amsterdam.