For the most actual update on the weed pass, check here.
The weed pass was introduced in the southern part of the Netherlands in May. It prevents non-Dutch citizens to enter coffeeshops. Furthermore it requires people to register themselves with a coffeeshop using their ID card. Ever since its hasty introduction, the weed pass has been heavily criticized. The law has almost no basis amongst the public and with the national elections behind us, the new policy starts to fall apart.
[typography font=”Droid Serif” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#ff830f”]The state of affairs[/typography]
“I think there are only two people left in this country who still believe in this pass” said Nine Kooiman, member of parliament for the SP (socialist party). With ‘two people’ she meant the minister of Security and Justice (Ivo Opstelten) and his secretary of state. As the elections have long passed, the two main parties (PVDA labor party and VVD conservative/liberals) are well into the formation of a new cabinet. There is almost no basis for the weed pass on a local level; many of the larger Dutch cities are outspoken against the weed pass. Amongst these are Amsterdam, Utrecht and Maastricht. In writing they have urged the minister to put to policy to a halt.
A few days ago the Dutch newpaper AD reported that sources in The Hague (where parliament resides) have stated that a compromise is in the making, making the weed pass less strict for Dutch citizens, for they won’t have to register with a coffeeshop anymore. They also say that it would still remain illegal for tourists or other non-Dutch citizens to enter cofeeshops. This includes people who live and work in the Netherlands but don’t have the nationality. Opponents of the weed pass have described this as discrimination, for they would not be able to go to the coffeeshop while their neighbors could.
According to the sources, the compromise makes the introduction of the weed pass into the northern and middle parts of The Netherlands – cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht – on January 1st highly unlikely.
[typography font=”Droid Serif” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#ff830f”]Troubled lands[/typography]
Major cities that both have the weed pass, and those that don’t, have sent written complaints to the minister of Security and Defense Ivo Opstelten. It was only weeks ago that the minister called the weed pass “a great success.” He and his ministry are currently working on a full report on the current state and the impact of the weed pass. It is expected to be released before the end of the month. Opstelten still remains positive about the weed pass, and it still remains to be seen if the outcome will be just as negative as other reports by third parties have been.
[typography font=”Droid Serif” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#ff830f”]Opposition in the Big Five[/typography]
Amsterdam: Has taken a position against the weed pass. The chance that Amsterdam will see the weed pass on January 1st is very low. Most people agree that the weed pass would impact tourism to our country and our capital in a disastrous manner. The city had taken a stance far before the weed pass’ introduction in 2010: “People are going to sell drugs on the streets, which will create a lot of nuisance we don’t have now.”
The mayor of Maastricht – Onno Hoes – who long supported the weed pass has recognized the arisen problems in his city. He thinks that the introduction of the pass to Amsterdam will make for a large expansion of criminal networks.
Update: Eberhard van der Laan, the mayor of Amsterdam, appeared in the Dutch talkshow Pauw & Witteman, where he stated that the weed pass would cause the – at least 1.5 million – tourists who want to buy marijuana in Amsterdam every year, to move to the streets. According to him this will cause a complete loss of control in comparison to the old policy where quality of the drug and safety of purchase were guaranteed. He expects “very bad things” to happen when the legislation would reach Amsterdam.
Utrecht: Stands together with Amsterdam, outspoken against the introduction of the weed pass. They state that the continuation of the current policy will cause all the coffeeshops in Utrecht’s city center to disappear.
The mayor of Utrecht recently said that they would like to start an experiment with ‘drugs clubs’ instead of coffeeshops, which would be a club with a member restriction of about 100 to 150 people. The club would have a private marijuana plantation where each member would ‘own’ five plants (as is now the legal maximum for natural home growing; additional lighting is forbidden). The owner of the club would then sell this ‘municipal marijuana’ to its members.
Rotterdam: Against the weed pass. In the Dutch news show Eenvandaag Rotterdam’s mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb directed some words to the two leading figures in the cabinet formations: “The weed pass doesn’t function and it won’t function and it leads to more nuisance in cities.” he stated.
At the central station the employees are going to protest because of the nuisance of drug runners, they demand more police present at the station because they don’t feel safe anymore. Since the introduction of the weed pass many Belgian and French drug tourists come to Rotterdam and the drug dealers approach them right at the train station. Rotterdam’s police denies that there as an increase of drug dealers on the station.
The Hague: Has made it clear that it opposes a weed pass introduction.
Eindhoven: Currently under weed pass legislation. The mayor has said that there has been a high increase in the amount of ‘weed taxis’ (weed couriers) in the city.
Due to difference in expected users and the amount of people registered at coffeeshops, it can be assumed that many people have resorted to buying their weed on the streets. Yet the chief of Eindhoven’s police force has stated that they can’t get a clear overview of the weed dealers in the city.
Youth workers have stated that young children are starting to become dealers. One of them said: “All kinds of little dealers are creating networks.”
[typography font=”Droid Serif” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#ff830f”]Word from the south[/typography]
In the south, apart from Eindhoven and Maastricht, large and smaller cities alike have also known an increase in drug-related problems. In the cities near the border with Belgium it isn’t strange for people with Belgian license plates to be approached by drug dealers at the red light. Drug tourists, mainly from Germany and Belgium are either approached on the streets, or will have no problem finding one of the many new street dealers. There are definitely less people coming across the border to get their weed, but it is far from gone, merely moved.
In the city of Breda they report that the flood of dealers causes much more nuisance than drug tourism previously did. In Venlo the story is the same; the amount of complaints has tripled over the past year. The amount of
drug related incidents have gone up from 141 in 2011 to 325 in 2012, while the arrests have also gone up from 101 to 229. In Terneuzen the city council unanimously decided that they want to get rid of the weed pass. They expect to have around 2000 marijuana users in their city, yet only 260 have registered with a cofeeshop; the rest is expected to be shopping in the illegal circuit. The mayor of Vlissingen – who is a member of the Christian Democratic party CDA (wants to make marijuana illegal) – has denied multiple times that the amount of dealers has increased in his city. Now he admits there may be an increase in drug dealing, yet he insinuates that the coffeeshops must be behind most of the street dealing, to make up for lost customers.
When you look at the playing field its looks as if this is more of a political principle for those (originally) supporting the law, than it is an objective decision based on facts.
[typography font=”Droid Serif” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#ff830f”]What’s next?[/typography]
It turns out our previous hope for full legalization of marijuana was ungrounded, as it seems unlikely that the negotiating parties are going to change anything about its legal status. The VVD fraction did not yet take a stance against the weed pass, whereas their formation partner PVDA was outspoken in their wish to legalize marijuana. The youth fraction of the VVD recently made clear that they were for legalization of a wide range of drugs, including hard drugs. This is a more liberal point of view, and the VVD as steered into a more conservative direction in the past elections. On a local level the VVD has on many an occasion opposed the weed pass, for example on in Amsterdam, this was soon after the introduction of the new marijuana legislation.
We are waiting on the outcome of the report by minister Ivo Opstelten, and the full shape of the rumored ‘compromise’. If you are going on holiday to The Netherlands, or if you live close by and you want to buy some marijuana, the middle and northern part of country should have options enough to buy weed for months to come.
We as The Stoned Society, and a vast majority of the Dutch population with us are outspoken against the weed pass, and we are very confident that we will see its demise soon. Due to the steep rise in street dealers marijuana is becoming a gateway drug again, children can get into contact with marijuana at very young ages, some end up on the wrong end of society and start dealing the now precious, but otherwise cheap to produce and harmless drug. We will not stand idly by to see The Netherlands lose its exemplar position in marijuana legislation. Check back, stay updated!