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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.

Dutch Christian Party (CU): No More Weed for Tourists!

CU en wiet

If political party the ChristenUnie  (CU) has her way, customers of Dutch coffeeshops will have to show an extract from their Personal Records Database records (BRP) before they can buy any weed. This proposed measure aims to ban tourists from coffeeshops and limit the acces to weed to Dutch residents only.

The idea is not new. The Dutch central government already gave municipalies the option to ban non-Dutch from their coffeeshops, but municipalities are allowed to determine whether they want to implement this rule. Many towns and cities, such as Amsterdam choose not to implement the ban and still allow tourists and other visitors of the Netherlands to buy and enjoy weed at its coffeeshops. The ChristenUnie wants to change that now. The party wants Justice and Security, minister Dutch to discuss the issue with the municipalities.
“At the moment, the Netherlands is known as the country where you go to get off and use drugs,” says MP Stieneke van der Graaf (CU). “That is horrible and shameful and I want to do everything to break that image as a drug country.”

Drugs and drug tourists cause too much trouble in our country, the politician believes. “Keeping tourists away from coffeeshops is a good start to tackle that nuisance.” Van der Graaf also considers it important that all municipalities apply the same criteria. “Otherwise you are only moving the problem.”

Illegal circuit

Ferry de Boer from the BCD, a branch organization for coffeeshop entrepreneurs, does not think that keeping tourists out of coffeeshops is a good idea. According to de Boer, the demand for cannabis does not disappear and this way you only chase consumers into the street. “This has already been happened in the city of Maastricht, where [after the ban] the number of illegal outlets has increased enormously.” An increase in illegal trade is not desirable for anyone, De Boer says. It would only aggravate the nuisance.

The coffeeshops were created to separate drug markets [to separate hard drugs from soft drugs consumption], he says. De Boer sees the refusal of tourists as a step back. It dates back to the time when there were hardly any coffeeshops. Then everything was sold from the illegal circuit and the Netherlands faced a major heroin problem. “There were parts of Amsterdam where you couldn’t walk as an ordinary citizen,” he says. With the arrival of the first tolerated cannabis, the situation changed. “The tolerance policy displaced the hard drug trade” with the coffeeshop as “safe haven”.

According to Van der Graaf, the increase in street trafficking of cannabis in Maastricht was not so disproportionate that it is a reason not to maintain the resident criterion. “The police were prepared for this and the illegal trade was quickly suppressed. Of course we have to take this into account, but it is not an argument for the long term. ”

Lots of police work

De Boer believes that closing the coffeeshops for tourists, and the associated growth of the illegal market, will cause major problems. “Maintaining something like this is going to require a huge amount of police work, and there is already a shortage of thieves.” In addition, making it mandatory to show a BRP would raise the threshold to go to a coffeeshop. This could also force the Dutch on to the illegal market.

It is not yet clear whether the minister will respond to the call of the ChristenUnie.

Coalition Agrees on Experiment with Legal Weed

The Dutch coalition parties have reached an agreement about an experiment with legal, government controlled cannabis. As planned earlier, six to ten municipalities will be conducting trials, but an additional six to ten municipalities are used as a ‘control group’. Moreover, the test can be extended if it proves successful.

During the trial, the coffeeshops involved will be allowed to have a larger trade stock (of marijuana cultivated by the state) than the current maximum of 500 grams. There will be a choice of different types of weed for customers to choose from and there will be no limit to the amount of THC, the active substance in cannabis. Should the experiment be a success, it can be extended.

A control group has also been added to the experiment. It consists of tolerated coffeeshops in the vicinity of the municipalities involved. The same measurements are made at these shops. On the basis of this so-called zero measurement, it can then be concluded whether the test with state weed was successful.

The decision is politically sensitive. The two christian democratic parties that are part of the current coalition agreed with a limited variant, which ten municipalities would participate in. But a research committee headed by Professor André Knottnerus ruled that this group would be too small for a ‘sufficiently representative survey’. The government should keep the experiment in ‘considerably more’ municipalities than the coalition agreement says.

The Committee also concluded that if the trial is a success, a national introduction of ‘state cannabis’ should be considered. The government does not want to do so for the time being, but the possibility to extend the trial does leave the door wide open.

Proposal To Change Dutch Pot Policy

A fresh proposal from the Dutch social-liberal party, D66, wants to customize the policy on cannabis. With these proposed changes, the cultivation and supply of cannabis will be regulated together with coffeeshop retail, and become part of a closed supply chain.

Growers would require a tolerance decision from the Minister of Health. The production of cannabis would remain illegal, but no longer punishable. Growers would also become taxable, and at long last the production of marijuana and hashish can be held to account regarding public health standards.

Hash and weed would be delivered to the coffeeshop sealed inside labelled packages containing up to 5 grams. This way coffeeshops can be supplied in a responsible manner, and consumers know exactly what they’re getting.

How to impliment this new policy on the ground would be largly left up to the municipalities.

 

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