Posts

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.

Weed Pass Scrapped With Immediate Effect!

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

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.

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!

Mayor Of Rotterdam Speaks Out Against New Pot Policy

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.”

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.

City of Eindhoven joins opposition to cannabis pass system

Eindhoven city council has come out against government plans to introduce a registration for cannabis users to make sure tourists are kept out of ‘coffee shops’ where small quantities of soft drugs are sold.

Den Bosch and Maastricht city councils have already voted against the plan and the four big cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht have also pledged to campaign against it.

The new government has not yet given any more details on its plans to turn coffee shops into closed clubs. However, opponents of the scheme say it will lead to an increase in street dealing.
Full story: DutchNews.nl

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.