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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.

The Latest Chapter In The Dutch Cannabis Saga: A New Hope

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!

Three Coffeeshops punished for advertising

The Dutch opium law does not allow advertising for ‘drugs’ (as long as it’s not regulated). Earlier reports showed prosecutor Frits Posthumus demanded repercussions for 5 Coffeeshops. However only three of them were fined (according to the Dutch Parool).

Outcome of the judges’ decision was, (about as vague as 10 years ago) that they are allowed to advertise in a way. Just not in combination of any contact information, they allowed to show/ display them in their establishment, nor are they allowed to distribute/ give them away.. Main motivation behind this outcome was that Coffeeshops- and their business are illegal.