Netherlands Bans Marijuana Sales to Tourist

wietpas demo amsterdam bans weeds asales to touristsSpecial Message from the MAKERS of STUFF STONERS LIKE-We have a new columnist over in Amster-D who’ll named Ewan McCrack. Stay tuned for more coverage.

As STUFF STONERS LIKE  posted an article last year about the rumors of the upcoming change in drug laws in the Netherlands, it seems that the rumors were true. On the 1st of May the Netherlands has taken the new law, which forbids tourist to visit cannabis café’s, in effect in the South of the Netherlands. The Southern part of the Netherlands shares borders with both Germany and Belgium and the government claims that more than 2 million tourists visit these parts of the country just to get a hold of their favorite herb. Dutch citizens that want to visit the local cannabis café’s, also called coffeeshops, need to be registered at the establishment in order to receive a so called “weed pass”  that grants them permission to purchase cannabis.

Smokers and coffeeshop owners in the Netherlands have protested against the new law ever since it had been announced that the new laws would definitely go in effect and on the morning of the 1st of May coffeeshop owners in the city of Maastricht kept their doors shut to show their’ dissatisfaction. Only one shop in Maastricht opened its doors, but only to refuse the first tourists that wanted to enter the establishment. The owner of one shop, that is called ‘Easy Going’, did open up his shop just to have the opportunity to refuse the first couple of tourists. The tourists immediately went to the local police station to file an official complaint for discrimination. The owner than opened the doors for whomever wanted to enter the establishment and got an official warning from the local authorities. The next day the owner did the same thing and was told by the local authorities that they would close his shop for at least a month. Marc Josemans, the owner of the shop, was hoping for this result as he is planning to take his case to court in order to prove to the judge that it is a form of discrimination to only allow Dutch citizens to visit coffeeshops in the Netherlands. “Let them close my shop down, than at least I can take this case to court”, said Marc Josemans. “Realism should win from these strange current hypocrite political decisions.”

netherlands weed pass for amsterdam weed banOne other coffeeshop in the South of the Netherlands also got a fine for serving tourists the next day. Coffeeshop owners in the whole of the Netherlands are very upset about the new law as they will lose a big part of their income. Also cannabis smokers in the Netherlands are very upset about the new laws as many of them refuse to be a registered smoker.

At the moment also medical marijuana users are purchasing their cannabis at the shops as this is much easier than to get it through a doctor’s prescription. The fear of not knowing what the government will do with all the information of registered cannabis smokers is an important reason to not subscribe for the weed pass. People feel that it is violation of their privacy right. More than a 1000 smokers where questioned in a survey that was held in Amsterdam and it turned out that most local smokers are not willing to register. Only 30% of the smokers that were surveyed said that they would register for the pass. 25% said they would start to grow their own cannabis and a bigger percentage admitted they would probably start purchasing their weed from illegal dealers. Meanwhile in the South of the country street dealers are already taking over business and the police don’t seem to care too much.

no weed sign in netherlands amsterdam weed marijuana banIt is a mistake though to think that cannabis has ever been completely legal in the Netherlands. Since the 70’s the Dutch authorities have had a policy of tolerance, allowing registered coffeeshops to sell cannabis to adults and every adult citizen is allowed to buy up to 5 grams of cannabis from the shops each day. Coffeeshops however are not allowed to have more than 500 grams of cannabis inside their establishment, which means that if a shop sells more than 500 grams per day, they need to get it delivered to their shop several times a day. The strange thing about the Dutch policy has always been that cannabis seeds are legal in the Netherlands, but it is not allowed to cultivate large amounts of cannabis. Every person in the country is allowed to grow 5 plants for his or her own usage, but this is of course not where the cannabis supplyling the shops comes from. Every year the Dutch authorities uncover about 6,000 illegal plantations in their little country and the Dutch are exporting more than half a million kilos of cannabis each year. This problem has led to many discussions in the government for the last 20 years. Some political parties believe that the solution would be to regulate the cultivation of cannabis rather than to ban tourists from the more than 600 coffeeshops that are currently based in the Netherlands.

The new law is moving the sale and cultivation of cannabis even more into the hands of criminal organizations. In a poll taken last week amongst the various political parties in the government it shows that two weeks after the new law had gone in effect in the South, 60% of the government thinks the new law should be turned back. Unfortunately, the Dutch parliament has fallen in the end of April and new elections will be held in September. The new drug laws are supposed to be going in effect in the rest of the Netherlands, including Amsterdam, on January 1st 2013 and according to the Minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten, who came up with the brilliant law, there is not a chance that the new government will cancel the new law. Many cannabis loving tourists from all over the world are currently moving fast to visit Amsterdam in its current “free” form as it is on the bucket list of many smokers worldwide.

2 Responses to “Netherlands Bans Marijuana Sales to Tourist”

  1. J.P. Morgan

    not exactly true that Dutch citizens are allowed to grow up to five plants. If
    the police see them, your five plants are directly confiscated, but you
    don’t go to jail. But if your plants have a grow-lamp hanging over them, you’re
    then accused of “bedrijfsmatig teelt” – growing ”
    industrially” – as it were, and you face considerable fines, anywhere from
    a few days to a few months in jail, and large fines. When ANY plants are
    discovered, you’re kicked out of your flat within a month, and you cannot register
    to get on the years-long waiting list to get another place to live for an
    entire year. In practice, this means you’re rendered homeless, since no one
    with an average salary can afford a place to live in the private housing sector
    in the Netherlands.
    These are the results of laws forced through Parliament mainly by the CDA
    (Christians), who together with professional islamophobe Geert Wilders PVV
    party, want to close all the nation’s coffeeshops immediately.

  2. J.P. Morgan

    Our election campaigns haven’t started yet. Completely opposite from America’s,
    European elections are short, to-the-point, and publicly funded. We can only
    hope the Dutch Labor Party (PvdA), the Socialists, D-66, and the Green Left parties
    get a majority over the present poisonous concoction of VVD (Libertarians) and
    CDA (Christians). Geert Wilders PVV party is a wild card. He’s the one who
    pulled the plug on the present ruling coalition, and the VVD and the CDA are
    very angry at him. Many of their members never wanted to work with Wilders in
    the first place. Now it seems he’s been spending more time in the New York Jewish
    community trying to promote his pathetic new book about how and why “the
    Moslems” are out to get him. 

    Since we just have a lame-duck government at present, we wish the weed
    pass would be declared “contraversieël”, and further implementation
    would be postponed until after the elections. I haven’t seen any impetus for
    that in Parliament, sadly, and creepy old Minister Opstelten and his crowd of
    Christian liars have been emboldened by a disastrous High Court ruling on April
    27th that gives him everything he wanted, and sweeps every concern
    for privacy off the table as well. Since there has been a lot of opposition to
    Opstelten’s ruinous plans by mayors and city councils, and it wasn’t really
    clear if he actually had absolute dictatorial powers over every coffeshop
    everywhere, he had earlier agreed to allow each city to enforce his new
    regulations in a way that suited them best, according to their individual
    circumstances. This is the way things are traditionally done in the Netherlands.
    But now that the judge has granted him absolute power, he’s bound and
    determined to make it impossible to run a coffeeshop, and harder and harder for
    anyone to buy marijuana legally.

    Yes, Belgians are staying away from Maastricht in droves. The weed pass has
    accomplished that, in any case. All but two coffeeshops remain closed, and
    street dealers are having a field day in spite of all the extra undercover
    police. Dozens have been arrested, and complaints about street dealing in
    neighbor-hoods have been pouring in. Still, VVD mayor Onno Hoes declares the
    weed pass a “success” and says that now little children can go
    outside and play because “the streets are safe again”.  

    Both Dutch and Belgian police are continually harassing anybody driving
    across the border for any reason. Hundreds of cars are being stopped and
    searched every day, and they’ve turned up a few grams of heroin, a gun, and a
    few grams of weed, too. But that’s all. One Belgian businessman, who would
    never smoke weed in his life was stopped, had his car searched, and was forced
    to take his clothes off by the side of the road by the Dutch Marechausee, the
    military police dispatched by Minister Opstelten. Indignant, he asked the
    police why he’d been delayed, and they told him he had been following a
    Moroccan drug-runner’s car. Really makes you wonder why they stopped him, but
    not the Moroccan drug-runners! 

    For the rest, the coffeeshops behind the iron “Weed Curtain”
    here in the unfortunate south are mostly empty. The extra security guards
    standing outside outnumber both the employees who haven’t been laid off yet,
    and the one or two customers who have dared to register as members. The towns
    in this area report that only a few hundred people have asked for an
    “uittreksel” (proof of local residency) so they could join a local
    coffeeshop, which has now become a “closed club”. The coffeeshops are bending
    over backwards to comply with the rules, and they can only hope more people
    will register in the future, . . . heavy smokers who will buy larger
    quantities, that is. They don’t want people like me who don’t smoke very much.
    My membership would be cancelled after a few months even if I did join. 
    On May 10th, I took the train down to Eindhoven to check out the situation. I had
    read that, at the moment at least, you could register at a coffeeshop in that
    city without having to get an uittreksel; – all you needed to show was your
    passport. It didn’t even matter if you lived in another town! I hadn’t visited
    a coffeeshop in Eindhoven
    for a long time, and I lost my way in the maze of curved streets in the city
    center. I stopped and asked a mixed group of young guys (who looked like they
    might know!) where I could find Coffeeshop Pink. Quickly, a black Antillian
    jumped in: “Say mon, we can arrange some weed for you! It’s the same as in
    the coffeeshop! You know you can’t get in there now. How much you want?”

    I thanked him, but declined. From the looks of that guy, he could have
    “arranged” a lot more than just weed for me. Out of curiosity, I was
    tempted to ask him about some coke, but I decided it was better to drop that

    I’ve traveled through Eindhoven MANY times over the years, visiting an
    Indonesian lady I used to date, and lately, taking a bookkeeping course. But
    never, never before, has anyone ever tried to sell me weed on the street there.
    . . . . And yet, we’re supposed to believe the weed pass is a

    When I managed to find coffeeshop Pink, I was stopped at the door, as I
    expected. I asked about membership, and the polite young man behind the bar
    handed me a pile of papers and folders. I sat down and began to read all the
    information, but then he came over and told me I’d have to leave. He apologized
    profusely, but that’s just how paranoid they are these days of the special
    police Opstelten has sent out to watch the coffeeshops, and try to find a
    reason to shut them down. So I went and stood outside to read what kind of
    hoops I’d have to jump through in order to buy a gram of weed under the new

    It turns out that under a temporary deal worked out between the
    coffeeshop owners and the Eindhoven
    city council, the “uittreksel” is not required. Opstelten didn’t like
    that, but agreed to allow it until the end of this year because no one was
    registering, and street dealing was undeniably on the increase.

    But on Jan. 1st, 2013, the weed pass is scheduled to choke off the whole
    country, and such exceptions will no longer be granted.

    I had been considering signing in somewhere in Eindhoven under these circumstances, since my
    city of residence will not know I’m registered anywhere. As it stands now,
    lists of coffeeshop members are not shared between municipalities, so my own
    town won’t be screwing with my unemployment subsidy, my insurance premium, or
    anything else they decide to do to identified marijuana smokers. Other
    advantages are that Eindhoven
    is only a 20-minute train ride from where I live, and coffeeshop Pink is
    probably the best in the city. I filled out the forms, went back into the shop,
    and although it’s against my principles, I signed in. The fine looking young man
    and woman working the bar assured me they hated Opstelten’s new regulations
    even more than I did, and they welcomed me with a package of rolling papers,
    filter tips, a weed grinder, and a petition protesting the weed pass which I
    signed with heart-felt enthusiasm. 

    Strangely, in spite of all the shit that’s been going down, I’ve scored
    some of the “allerbest” weed I’ve ever smoked here recently. The last time I visited
    Toermalijn in Tilburg,
    I bought a 70% sativa “Amnesia Haze” that lived up to it’s name
    beyond all expectations! God knows I wish I would have stocked up and bought
    more, considering that I’m now banned from entering Toermalijn ever again. This
    makes me very sad. Toermalijn is not one of the cheaper places, but they have a
    champagne-quality menu of exotic weed varieties, Nederhashes, and ice-o-lators
    that makes my brain-receptors drool! It’s always been so pleasant to enjoy
    their back-yard flower garden, and sit outside in warm weather with a glass of
    chilled fruit juice next to their fishpond with it’s fountain. Why, why would
    this idiotic right-wing government want to destroy such a nice thing? But this
    is what conservatives are good for!

    But Pink’s Haze is also killer, and their White Widow is an excellent
    second. Their prices aren’t any worse than other shops, either. It’s a roomy,
    clean, well-kept shop that I will enjoy visiting. 

    So, I can still buy legally, and that’s all I want.

    But that’s only until the end of this year. After that, I’ll be a
    “criminal”. Unless our prayers are answered, and the weed pass is put on hold,
    my membership with coffeeshop Pink will then be cancelled since I don’t live in
    Eindhoven. I
    don’t buy enough to qualify anyway, and they’re also going to start charging
    membership fees. With a maximum of only 2000 possible customers, that’s the
    only way the coffeeshops can keep going. Things are going to get increasingly
    expensive, and that’s precisely what the government wants. 

    At that point, I guess I’ll get an uittreksel and try to register with
    The Grass Company coffeeshop in Den Bosch. But I’m sure they’ll chuck me too
    for not buying enough, even if they haven’t reached their 2000-member limit
    already. The prudes in the government think that, by restricting access to
    legal purchase in any manner possible, people will stop smoking marijuana.

    Most southern smokers, including the poor Belgians, Germans and French,
    are heading north past the Weed Curtain. Coffeeshops in Nijmegen, for example, are reporting a 30%
    increase in sales. There are a lot more cars with German license plates causing
    traffic jams there now. Other than that, police don’t report any real problems.
    These customers used to go to Venlo, further
    south on the German border, but the shops in Venlo have closed since their clientele were
    primarily Germans. I want to visit Nijmegen
    again, too, while I still can. I remember a shop there that was also a fine

    Utrecht is busier than
    usual, and before long, I’ll be traveling north to check out the fantastic new
    designer-art coffeeshop Hi-Lo. This is the first coffeeshop to be allowed to
    open in Utrecht
    in the last 20 years, and it might very well be the last to ever open.

    To the west, even Dordrecht and Rotterdam are doing more
    business, prompting the Christians in those cities to call for an earlier
    implementation of the weed pass in order to stop it all. 

    Nothing has changed in Amsterdam,
    either, so that remains an option for legal purchase.

    Opstelten’s going to have a fight on his hands when he tries to fuck
    with Amsterdam.
    (And also with nearby Haarlem,
    for that matter. Haarlem
    hardly has any weed tourists to begin with.) Nobody in Amsterdam wants Opstelten’s weed pass; not
    the mayor, and not even a single member of his own VVD party on the city
    council. Still, the old shithead insists on shoving his stupid rules down Amsterdam’s throat on
    Jan.1st, 2013 whether they like it or not. Mayor Eberhard van der
    Laan wants to work out some kind of compromise, considering how much business
    the city’s tourist industry stands to lose, but Opstelten won’t give a single
    centimeter. I thought the Netherlands
    was supposed to be a democracy. But not according to Opstelten and the
    Christians. It’s hard to imagine a “free city” like Amsterdam with most of its
    coffeeshops gone, and the handful that remain, open only to a small group of
    high-paying Dutch citizens who have risked letting their names and addresses be
    registered in a police dossier as “drug users” by becoming members of a

    We’re all holding our tokes . . . . 

    By the way, I’ll apologize to Opstelten for calling him a shithead as
    soon as he apologizes to me for calling me an addict.

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