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Amsterdam Coffeeshops Are Open, These Are The Rules

These are the obligated measures taken by the Amsterdam coffeeshops against coronavirus:

– Coffeeshops are open and permitted to sell weed and hashish at a take-away counter.
– They must be able to arrange this logistically and also observe all hygiene measures prescribed (such as maintaining a 1.5 metres distance between people).
– Customers are now only allowed to pick up weed and can not stay in the coffeeshops or use the shop’s facilities.
– Delivery is not permitted.

Update: Bars and restaurants in Amsterdam will open again on June 1st. Coffeeshops will be allowed to offer full service again on July 1st. Until then they will remain open for take-away.

Stay safe everyone.

Corona Measures: Amsterdam Coffeeshops Open With Restrictions

A slight panic struck Amsterdam’s 420 community when, in the late afternoon of March 15th, the Dutch government announced measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. All establishments in the Netherlands, such as restaurants, bars and coffeeshops, were to be closed by 6 o’clock that evening, and were to remain closed for at least three weeks.

In a last-minute effort to secure some weed or hash in order to have something left to smoke during the impending ‘drought’, people formed long lines outside the city’s cannabis shops. In those queues, which sometimes stretched for tens of metres along the sidewalk and around corners, patrons were not keeping distance from each other. To make matters worse, at some coffeeshops the people waiting outside were being targeted by pushy street dealers who were handing out business cards and promoting their merchandise as the soon-to-be only available alternative. However, the local government took notice of that and quickly recognised the potentially harmful side-effects of a complete coffeeshop lockdown. After some deliberation, it was decided that in the course of following day the shops would be allowed to open again – be it with restrictions:

Takeaway only (no seats, no service, no toilet), everyone is to keep 1.5 metres distance from others and there is a limit on the number of customers that are allowed in the coffeeshop at one time for pickup.
On top of this, most reopened coffeeshops have added their own measures such as the placement of transparent screens on the dealer’s counter and distance markers on the floor.

Relaxing Measures

Prime Minister Mark Rutte recently announced the long awaited relaxation of most restrictions. In public buildings from June 1, a maximum of thirty people will be allowed per room. This means, for example, that movie theatres and concert halls can open again.

In addition, most establishments may also open on June 1st. There is no maximum number of people on the terraces but everyone should sit at a table and keep 1.5 meters apart.

Coffeeshops have to wait two months longer to fully open. They will be allowed to provide public access without capacity restrictions again from September 1st.

Dutch Mayors Call For Saner Marijuana Policy

February 2014 – “It takes courage to refrain from doing what, to some people, seems logical on the drawing board.”

This was the astounding reply of Ivo Opstelten, the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice, to the Dutch mayors who stand for the regulation of the cannabis supply chain. The 35 mayors recently joined forces to convince the minister to regulate the cultivation of cannabis needed to supply coffeeshops across the country.

Many involved experts, backed by the Mayors of 35 Dutch towns and cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht, argue that the current laws only allow the sale but not the cultivation of marijuana. Dutch coffeeshops, which are allowed to sell hash and weed, cannot buy their stock legally. This encourages organized crime and wastes police time, according to the mayors.

Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, told local press that cannabis cafes had to rely on “murky worlds”, and that the current situation in Holland was unsustainable.

The Mayors recently offered the minister a manifest titled “Joint Regulation”, calling for long overdue policy change. Quoting from the manifest:

“This manifest is a plea to the cabinet – in particular to the under-minister of the Department of Health and to the minister of the Department of Security and Justice – and the members of parliament to turn their ears to the cities and change coarse. A coarse that can make a change in the way these problems are dealt with. Our call: implement, together with us, a nation-wide system of certification and regulation for the cultivation of cannabis. Only then a solution may be possible.”

However, the Dutch government won’t budge and argues that any change in the law would not be welcomed by neighboring countries. Minister Opstelten said after a cabinet meeting in response to the Joint Regulation weed manifesto that the mayors signed in Utrecht, he will tour the ‘country’ in order to discuss the prevention of crime and nuisance weed plantations, with mayors and municipalities.

In spite of Hollands progressive history, the recent global trend of cannabis legislation shows the Dutch policies falling behind.

The international tide is turning as the world becomes more weed friendly. Many countries in Europe have decriminalized marijuana. The United States has legalized cannabis shops in Colorado with Washington State set to follow, while in South America, Uruguay became the first nation to fully legalize cannabis.

From the 1970’s Holland has been one of the few countries in the world where you can have a joint without worrying about getting busted and cities such as Amsterdam have since been celebrated by cannabis connoisseurs and freedom hungry travelers from around the globe.

The ‘weed pass law’ (restrcting foreigners from coffeeshops) was due to be introduced nationally on January 1st 2013 but in November 2012 it was repealed. Although municipalities are now still able to regulate the sale of marijuana, It leaves the issue of regulating the supply untouched.

Weed Pass Is History, But What About Tourists? It’s Mayor Vs. Minister

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.

Politics As Usual (But Thank Goodness We’re Stoned)

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.

North and South? Holland Divided Over Cannabis

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.

Local governements: “A ‘Weed-Pass’ won’t solve anything”

A nationwide poll shows that Dutch municipalities are not keen on a registration system for coffeeshops customers.

The central government of The Netherlands says it wants to introduce such a pass system to combat “drug tourism”. RTL News asked local governments to share their thoughts the issue. The majority, 14 municipalities, say they oppose the idea of a ‘Weed-Pass’. The 14 municipalities say this pass won’t solve anything, and its introduction would only lead to further inconvenience and crime.

Essentially the large cities and border towns expressed the same concerns as the mayor of Amsterdam did in an earlier reaction to the plan: Public health and public safety might be at risk. Tourist would not be able to apply for a weed-pass, and the fear is they will resort to the streets.

According to another recent poll (by Maurice de Hondt), some 50% of the Dutch population think cannabis should be fully legalized while 25% want a complete ban.

Presently the Netherlands has a policy of turning a blind eye to purchases of up to five grams of marijuana for personal use. The herb can be bought from so-called “coffeeshops” which operate under local government license.

Results Of City Of Amsterdam’s Research Into Coffeeshops

Research carried out in 2011 on behalf of the City of Amsterdam into coffeeshops in the city has revealed a series of significant findings.

Membership card system

If a membership card system for purchasing cannabis were to be introduced in Amsterdam, only 30% of those currently using coffeeshops would register themselves for a coffeeshop membership card. Nearly 25% of coffeeshop users claim they would grow their own cannabis or buy it directly from a grower. Roughly 25% say they would buy their cannabis elsewhere, such as through dealers who deliver it to home addresses or on the street.
About 11% of current coffeeshop visitors say they would stop smoking cannabis if a membership system were introduced. Both coffeeshop owners and those who visit the establishments expect that the introduction of a card membership system alongside the exclusion of tourists would take soft drug dealing back to the streets, where hard drugs are also available.

New coffeeshop policy

The above findings are drawn from research conducted for the City of Amsterdam into matters including the reasons why coffeeshop users visit a certain coffeeshop instead of another. The research is part of the Coffeeshops Pilot.
The aim of the pilot is to develop a new Amsterdam coffeeshop policy in order to reduce the nuisance caused by coffeeshops and increase their manageability while encouraging them to remain small-scale and transparent. The pilot will ultimately lead to a plan outlining a more efficient means of distributing coffeeshops throughout the city.
In order to gain insight into the supply and demand element of the sale of cannabis, observations were made at 59 coffeeshops in Amsterdam and interviews were conducted with 66 coffeeshop owners and 1,214 coffeeshop users. 793 Amsterdam residents completed a questionnaire to help research the effect that coffeeshops have on their immediate surroundings.

Nuisance

Complaints about coffeeshops stem from nuisance such as too many bikes or scooters parked on the pavement, customers loitering on the street outside the coffeeshop and illegally (double) parked cars. However, observations made outside 195 coffeeshops revealed that such occurrences are relatively infrequent or not specifically related to a coffeeshop.

When residents were not directly questioned about nuisance they experienced from coffeeshops, the nuisance level reported was not higher in neighbourhoods with a coffeeshop. When directly questioned about nuisance from coffeeshops, 16% of residents indicated that they had experienced nuisance caused by the presence of a coffeeshop.
Residents who live within 50 metres of a coffeeshop experience nuisance more frequently than those who live further away. The majority of residents (54%) are neutral about a coffeeshop in the neighbourhood, 27% report finding it disagreeable while 17% react positively. A large proportion of residents expect the arrival of coffeeshops and bars in the area to cause a nuisance – more nuisance than they actually experience once the coffeeshop or bar arrives.

Coffeeshop visitors

The average age of the 1,214 coffeeshop visitors interviewed is 32.4 years old (with a range of 18 to 71 years old) and 14% is female. Two out of three visitors interviewed smoke cannabis on a daily basis or nearly every day. By far the most interviewees live in Amsterdam or close to the city and nearly all of their recent visits to coffeeshops were in

Amsterdam.

Outside of central Amsterdam, coffeeshop users have a stronger affiliation to a particular coffeeshop. The primary reasons that attract visitors to a certain coffeeshop include the quality of the cannabis, how friendly the staff are, the atmosphere and the presence of an indoor smoking area.

Coffeeshop characteristics

The majority of coffeeshops are located close to one or more other coffeeshops. In general, the coffeeshops can be easily accessed using public transport and parking facilities are often just a short walk away. It is often difficult to find a parking space close to a coffeeshop.

Similar to a small café/bar, the coffeeshops tend to have few staff and an average of 27 seats. Four out of five coffeeshops have an indoor smoking area. On average, the coffeeshops are open 14 hours a day and 100 hours a week. The busiest time of day is late in the afternoon and early evening with the coffeeshops receiving an average of nine customers per hour.

Cabinet proposal

The City of Amsterdam expressed its concerns to Security and Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten that the cabinet proposals to combat the nuisance caused by coffeeshops and cannabis use amongst young persons (such as the card system and distance criteria) may not have the desired effect and could, in fact, be counterproductive. At the request of the Amsterdam City Council, the Mayor of Amsterdam entered into consultation with Minister Opstelten.

source: http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/pressroom/city-of-amsterdam-2011/coffeeshop-amsterdam-research

Coffeeshops Remain Open For Tourists

There is good news for all the cannabis connoisseurs who like to visit Amsterdam and enjoy the wide variety of weed and hash that is available from the Dutch capital’s many coffeeshops. The Dutch Tolerance Policy, that provides the legislation under which the Dutch coffeeshops can operate, will be renewed from 1st July 2011 and will be valid until June 30th 2015.

This means that the feared ‘Weedpass’, a card only available to Dutch citizens that would factually ban foreigners from buying marijuana at coffeeshops, can only be implemented through local legislation. Since City Councils like Amsterdam do not want the Weedpass scheme and local politicians such as the Mayor of Haarlem have said they do not want it either, it means it will not be possible to implement for at least 4 years during which visitors from abroad can still freely and openly buy hash and weed from Dutch coffeeshops.

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.