WeedPass plans to ban tourists from coffeeshops ditched

NORML UK welcomes the announcement that Dutch cities are to ditch their proposed Wietpas (“WeedPass”) scheme, which would have allowed only Dutch nationals to buy cannabis in the country’s famous coffeeshops. At least one and a half million of the city’s seven million visitors a year go to a coffeeshop.

The measure proposed by the previous Christian Democrat government would have forced the coffeeshops to become private members’ clubs, limited to only 2,000 members each and open only to Dutch residents, thereby banning sales to foreigners. The scheme had already been introduced in some parts of southern Holland, where critics say it has already lead to increased street dealing.

Dutch authorities in cities such as Haarlem and Amsterdam were vehemently opposed to the scheme. They claimed it would push the dealers onto the streets, and damage the local tourist industry. Millions of visitors flock every year to visit the famously liberal coffeeshops where the sale and consumption of small amounts of cannabis is permitted.

Although the new cabinet is formally pressing ahead with the scheme, it now says enforcing the ban will be carried out together with local councils, and taking local policy into account. In reality, this means local authorities will seek to protect their tourist industry and refuse to implement the scheme. The mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, said “Tourists can continue to use Amsterdam’s 220 cannabis cafes, even if they are not resident in the Netherlands.”

Nol van Schaik cannabis entrepreneur

Nol van Schaik

Coffeeshop entrepreneur and long time cannabis campaigner, Nol van Schaik, welcomed the death of the Weedpass. Mr van Schaik has been one of the most vocal opponents of the Weedpass in The Netherlands.

“We do not need a Weedpass, we need to pass weed,” he said.

NORML UK Executive Director, Des Humphrey, himself a medicinal cannabis consumer, also welcomed the news.

“As a regular visitor to The Netherlands, I’m glad this ridiculous scheme is not going to see the light of day.

“Anybody who knows how successful the coffeeshop system is always knew the Dutch would probably never introduce the Weedpass scheme and I’m delighted to learn that this is the case.

“The only reason the previous Dutch government sought to restrict the coffeeshops was because of pressure from neighbouring governments who did not like successful Dutch policies showing up their failed policies of prohibition.

Mr Humphrey also suggested: “Rather than lobby the Dutch to change their liberal policies towards cannabis, it would be better if other European countries took a leaf out of their book and copied their successful coffeeshop model, which allows the commercial sale of cannabis to adults in a taxed and regulated market.”

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  1. The Dutch coffeeshop system is not legal and it is not regulated – It is not very far from the law in other European countries. All Cannabis supply and cultivation in the Netherlands is illegal and un regulated. So no quality controls, no limits on who it is sold to (it’s not just coffeeshops – so some dealer could pass it on to children) and the profits go to big organised crime with no tax revenue. Coffee shops can keep up to 500g of cannabis on the premises (this limits is often ignored by factors of 10 or more !) and sell no more than 5g at a time to a customer (out the back door many places will sell you as much as you like at the right price!) with no sales to under 18s – if they do this then police turn a blind eye. Everything else is treated as very much illegal but often with much lighter sentences than the UK if you get caught. Towns outside Amsterdam and Rotterdam have always had a much stricter enforcement of the law and some have no coffeeshops at all.

    Anyone who enjoys cannabis and has been to a coffeeshop knows what a wonderful feeling it is to sit there and relax without fear and enjoy what alcohol users take for granted but it really has it’s down sides. If anything it keeps cannabis properly illegal which means the prices are going up and quality is going down – especially for tourists. You would not accept that situation for any other product such as food or drink. Keeping the coffeeshop system benefits some unscrupulous rich people but not the cannabis consumer or medical patient. Don’t be tempted to think that coffeeshops or (so-called) decriminalisation is a first step because it is not really representative of how legalisation and regulation would work and can do more harm than good. Full legalisation is more acceptable to the public (as has been shown in America in recent months) and it fully removes the criminal element from the cannabis business.

    Just watch what is happening in America – especially what is about to happen in Washington (state) next week and then we will see what true legalisation and regulation does for cannabis and it’s users.

    • There is truth in what you say, however, the Dutch system is still more preferable than what we have in the UK.

      NORML UK is calling on the UK Government to allow the commercial sale of cannabis to adults in a taxed and regulated market.

      • Most things are more preferable than what we have in the UK but I was thinking about the fact that coffeeshops offer a legal outlet to organised crime and almost support it – which is a very good argument against them from those who would preserve the current situation. Legalisation and control is actually much harder to argue with. Decriminalisation is not the soft target it seems.

    • Yes what the Dutch have done is to try to put the cork back in the bottle – It does not mean the coffeeshop system is ideal. Just taking the coffeeshops away did nothing to tackle the massive organised illegal production of cannabis that they had propped up for years. When Southern cities such as Maastricht closed the coffeeshops this lucrative industry just looked for another outlet for it’s product. Legalisation is the only thing that will kill this organised crime but a U turn on the wiet pass is better than pushing it through for the whole country if not wholly a solution

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