By Chuck Finley
Amsterdam has always been known as the place to go for potheads worldwide. Of course this lovely city in the Netherlands as a lot more to offer than those so called “coffee shops”, but in general it has build its name on the reputation of being the city where you can just toke up without any hassle from the cops.
For a while already there have been rumors about a new law that would make it illegal for foreigners to visit those coffee shops in Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands. The new policy states that only residents of the Netherlands can register for a so called “weed pass”, giving them the right to visit the coffee shop of their choice once per day and allowing them to buy 3 grams of cannabis a day. Coffee shops can only give this registration out to 2000 clients per establishment so it might be that the shop of your choice will not even be able to give you access if you are not one of the “lucky” 2000.
Many people in the Netherlands, but also outside of that country, thought that this would never happen because Amsterdam without cannabis is just unimaginable and isn’t the Netherlands that open-minded country where things like cannabis and prostitution are fully accepted in society? Well apparently everybody was wrong as from the 1st of January 2013 the new policy will go into effect and as a foreigner you will be able to buy you sweet White Widow any more.
Last Tuesday, the new policy went already into effect in the South of the Netherlands. The South of the Netherlands borders with Germany and Belgium and is daily visited by many tourists from those countries that basically only come for one reason; cannabis. This last Tuesday was a very hectic day in those cities that had to deal with the new law as it created a lot of confusion and chaos amongst tourists and even local smokers and coffee shop owners.
In Maastricht, one of the bigger cities close to the border of both Belgium and Germany, one shop called “Easy Going”, was warned by the authorities for violating the ban and more than 200 smokers paraded in a protest march through the city. In the morning of the first day of the ban, “Easy Going” opened its doors just to refuse the first tourist entrance to the establishment. Of course this immediately resulted in angry tourists who then went to the local police station to file a discrimination complaint. After this the same shop started selling cannabis to basically anybody interested in buying, without checking any passes or even any ID’s. Authorities have given the owner an official warning on Tuesday, again on Wednesday and now the shop is forced to close its doors for at least a month starting from Thursday. The owner of the shop has announced that he will take the case to court to prove that the new law is absurd. In the meantime street dealers have been seen across the cities in the South, selling cannabis they bring from cities in the North.
Of course at the moment there is the law of free-trade in cannabis seeds, but for many smokers it is not a solution to the problem. In the Netherlands it is not even that clear whether the law allows you to grow your own plants, even if it would be only a single plant on your balcony. We have heard rumors about certain companies wanting to plant some White Widow seeds in various public places in the country as a protest action against the new policy. Well this is a great action of course if it would be true but the more realistic people are still hoping that the Dutch court will decide to let foreigners visit their favorite shops and smoke their favorite herb.