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Wietpas scrapped but coffee shop entry rights a grey area

Monday 29 October 2012

The new cabinet plans to press ahead with restricting access to the country's cannabis cafes to local residents but is dropping the introduction of compulsory registration of users via a membership card system.

'The wietpas will go but entrance to coffee shops will be restricted to residents with ID or a residency permit and a local council statement of residency,’ the coalition agreement published on Monday afternoon states.

However, the coalition agreement goes on to say that determining how this residency requirement is applied will be done ‘in discussion with the local councils concerned and if necessary phased in’. This will allow a tailor-made approach per locality, the agreement states.

Big cities

The mayors of the Netherlands four big cities Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht are opposed to the introduction of the cannabis card, saying it will lead to an increase in street dealing.

The coalition agreement would appear to pave the way for the big cities to determine their own policies, but there has not yet been any official comment on this.

The wietpas was introduced in the south of the country in May and is due to go nationwide on January 1 next year.

THC content

The document goes on to stress that the government will continue to take action against street dealing and plans to introduce a 'maximum limit' to the active ingredients in soft drugs.

Last year a report for the government said marijuana with more than 15% THC – the active ingredient in the drug – is so dangerous it should be classed alongside heroin and cocaine.

Experts say the THC content of Dutch-grown marijuana is between 15% and 18%. Some 75% of the marijuana sold in the country's cannabis cafes is grown in the Netherlands.

Your thoughts on this? Use the comment box below to have your say.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

There is no sight more beautiful than that of politicians backtracking.

By Dante | 29 October 2012 4:28 PM

a coward approach trying to fix a populist mistake. i won't be surprised if the "residence requirement" includes "hotel residence"... try to be serious since the only stoned ideas i see here are coming from your politicians.

By jim | 29 October 2012 4:56 PM

what does this really mean, for Amsterdam for example...if Lady Gaga is in 'Dam, will she be allowed to enter the coffeshop ?

By Martin | 29 October 2012 5:04 PM

I think the solution is satisfactory (I myself hate any smoking and I frown upon smokers).

It will abolish the need to register for coffeeshops.

It will allow legal residents, regardless of nationality, to patronize coffeeshops on the city they live in (thus it is not something that discriminates against foreign residents in Netherlands).

At the same time, it allows controlling the problem where it is most serious: people coming from Belgium, Germany and else, who don't live in Netherlands, for the purpose of smoking.

By Andre L. | 29 October 2012 5:06 PM

So long citizens can continue to purchase soft drugs without fear of a database that could be used against them, fine.

Let's just look at the ridiculous report from last year, above 15% THC should be classed as a hard drug, and cask strength whiskey, 62%? In reality, if you use low grade weed that has only 10% THC, you just use more, what a bunch of morons!!

Cannabis is a non toxic mind altering drug that (Can)enable one to think 'outside the box'..that is one of the reasons also that it is forbidden. TV, I-phones & beer, keep us all happy & dumb, that's always a good thing for any government that tends it's flock, take your pick!

By The visitor | 29 October 2012 5:25 PM

@Andre L: as far as I knew the wietpas never "Discriminated against foreign residents in Netherlands" as all residents could get a wietpas. The issue was that they were supposed to register. jim put it exactly right. this is trying to fix a populist mistake, but worse than that, it is trying to cover up a populist mistake, but in fact it changes nothing except the registration. If only residents can go to a coffeshop, registration or not, street dealing will increase.

By the_expat | 29 October 2012 5:38 PM

...meanwhile, everyone is able to buy cigarettes and alcohol which kills millions of people around the world each year. WHY do people have no problem with that?

By marco | 29 October 2012 6:04 PM

So does mean the unemployment line will have millions more added after no one deicdes to go to holland anymore on holiday!! or I can get hotel room with my own bathroom for under 50 instead of 200euro.. They are doomed if this go through

By Dave Kesner | 29 October 2012 6:15 PM

Dave, I find it hard to believe that all tourists come to the Netherlands merely to smoke dope. Or that many at all...

By CW | 29 October 2012 6:20 PM

Backtracking because they know their dumb plan is backfiring. I give it a month or two before they scrap the whole thing. Here's a suggestion, legalise, tax and regulate instead. Hey presto tourists return, street dealers are gone and business can return to normal. The only unhappy people will be the moany gits who don't like non-local people using their amenities and parking. I would suggest getting rid of them instead!

By handytrim | 29 October 2012 6:25 PM

@Andre L: And what is wrong with that exactly?

By Kevin | 29 October 2012 6:32 PM

Any strain above 15% THC is so dangerous it should be classed alongside heroin and cocaine? That kind of propaganda spits in the face of common sense and undermines the science. Cannabis, regardless of THC content is safer than aspirin, let alone hard drugs like heroine and alcohol. Why is there no mention of CBD?(the anti psychotic cannabinoid) All medicine has side effects, but to say its as dangerous as hard drugs is propaganda. Cannabis remains the safest drug on Earth, prohibition never works in any context, in fact it causes more harm than it prevents.

By SourLion | 29 October 2012 6:58 PM

The Vondel Park has no dealing in it. Within five days of this passing there will be dealing in there. Be smart Nederlands Mensen and legalize 100% with both the front door and back door..Tax the growing, tax the sales, tax the tourists and enjoy the monopoly before the rest of Europe legalize and capitalizes on the tourist trade. Have you seen how busy your coffeeshops are with the Italians, Americans, French, etc. The coffeeshops are a United Nations of smokers...But keep the park free from dealers. Because like it or not you cannot control drug dealers once it is illegal.

By Kees | 29 October 2012 8:17 PM

Now it's become Xenophobic. Shame on you Holland. You used to be a great nation! I hope we all bring in laws in our own countries to stop the Dutch using everything from Hotels to public toilets. Have you learned nothing?

By DemoKrit | 29 October 2012 10:24 PM

I live in America and cam to Amsterdam last year. The only reason I came is to enjoy smoking pot in an environment with people who are opened minded about it and feel it should be legal as I do. Yes we went to the Ann Frank Museum and the Van Gough, but I did not come to see the museums, I came to smoke pot! Between my husband and I we spent a total of 8,000 US in your country! I planned on coming back many times until they decided to not allow the tourist to partake. Now I"ll go elsewhere unless there is a change.

By Mechele | 29 October 2012 11:09 PM

It's still stupid and should have been dropped completely. Amsterdam will be hit the most by any restrictions. Build cannabis kiosks near the boarders to stop nearby drug tourists needing to come deep into the country. My city does not tolerate coffeeshops so unless the "living locally" aspect is dropped I can't get into a coffeeshop, and neither can most of the local Dutch people I know.

By Anne Onymous | 30 October 2012 12:06 AM

Wow. the Dutch politicians have stepped in the goo on this subject. Just legalise it and stop the nonsense.

By Miguelito | 30 October 2012 12:19 AM

The original coffeeshop policy aimed "to protect experimenting youngsters from heroin" - UvA monitored, researched and evaluated this and found it spectacularly successful. You can see the bio-stats in the doco "Cannabis Rising."

There has been no sound science behind any changes to the original coffeeshop policy. And some stinking science has been published as Gospel Truth. A 2004 report found cannabis caused around half the psychosis they found - but get this - they said hard drugs do not!!! Or the 2012 one finding cannabis causes testicular cancer but cocaine is protective!!! Worse still, this fake science finds its way into "drug education" directed at the same experimenting teenagers who clearly need that coffeeshop protection.

By Max Harmreduction | 30 October 2012 3:05 AM

As I live in a nation where street-dealing is the main way all drugs are sold, I must report this is the biggest reason that weed users "experiment" with heroin, etc. My street research left no doubt that street-dealers NEVER want to sell weed, not at any price. The reason is how extremely detectable weed and its use is - when compared to injecting heroin or swallowing an XTC.

At my needle exchange ALL of my customers were weed users. I hope you never have to see heroin injected in 20 seconds - or XTC swallowed in 2 seconds, but i have. Using weed takes many minutes every hour - permanent possession. This is why coffeeshops prevent heroin experimentation.

By Max Harmreduction | 30 October 2012 3:35 AM

@CW the point is that NL (AMS in particular) is shooting itself in the foot if it removes weed as an available choice as an "entertainment item" for foreigners (non-residents). True maybe only 20% of the tourists who come ever imbibe in weed but for that 20% they have one very big reason not to choose NL as a travel destination. For those who do still come, they will be forced underground/to the street to purchase. How is that helping anyone? This was never about residents. Is it not true that you can be in legal of possession of a finite number of plants for personal use?

By Michael K | 30 October 2012 5:15 AM

Sorry, I have a really hard time conjuring up any sympathy for people whose idea of a vacation is smoking pot, unless they have a medicinal reason for doing so. Priorities, please.

By CW | 30 October 2012 9:02 AM

CW: don't you remember being 18 or 19? ;) I have trouble getting back that far myself but a quick stroll down the Warmoestsraat always reminds me of the stupid careless joy and inhibition I felt at that time in my life. Smoking pot on vacation in Amsterdam is a big part of that ritual for many young people I think.
For those of you who are concerned about this Dutch 'development' - heads up stoners! This initiative has already been watered down (no pun intended ;) big time so stop worrying and come to NL and enjoy our museums, canals, hotels, cafe's - and coffeeshops.

By B | 30 October 2012 10:14 AM

@CW I suppose I could say the same of people going on a rock climbing or trekking holiday. Everyone has differing opinions and 'priorities' and its what makes us diverse as a human race. If we all enjoyed the same thing then wouldn't life be boring?

By stevie | 30 October 2012 10:42 AM

Mechele, this all just smacks of "first-world problems", sorry. Especially when you boast about how much money you spent here. So what? Am I supposed to be impressed by that?

"I came to smoke pot" just sounds so bizarre to me...But I'm still in awe of the fact I'm living in Europe, and grateful for the opportunity to see the world outside my home country. Few people do. To spend the privilege of being able to travel the world just to get stoned and spend money just seems so shallow and cynical. So forgive me my lack of sympathy...

By CW | 30 October 2012 11:04 AM

It is borderline fun to read these comments (always predictable) of angry tourists threatening to take their vacations elsewhere and imagining they will bring down the Dutch economy while doing so because of changes in cannabis laws.

I think the fine-tuning of new regulations will work perfectly: people who LIVE in this country can have access to coffesshops and thus reap the benefits of "lower drug dealing exposure " and what else.

If a person doesn't live here, why would him/her bother coming (and fuel street dealing), since there are probably street dealers on their own cities?

By Andre L. | 30 October 2012 11:53 AM

@cw but u probably dont have any problems with people drinking alcohol on holiday
and will it still be that germans and belgians are permitted entry as it was under the original weed pass. also i go for the atmosphere of the city but being able to end the night with a smoke is also part of the reason i go

By gln | 30 October 2012 12:54 PM

@CW - it's not about "having sympathy" with people. A certain percentage of people come to Amsterdam for their holiday and the prime (or one of the prime) motivators for them is smoking pot in coffee shops. I form no judgment on that. There is a strong likelihood that those people will now not come to Amsterdam. That will cause several million euros of last revenues, for hotels, restaurants, bars (and thus the tax man). There is no evidence to say that they will be replaced by other tourists.

In these tough times, it seems odd to have a social policy (dealing with a 'problem' that there is no clear evidence exists in Amsterdam) that actually reduces national income.

By DW | 30 October 2012 1:11 PM

If that's so, my trips to Holland are over. Not that (during the last 30 years) I came over only to go to coffee-shops, but I liked it now and then. And now I hate being forbidden because I don't live there permanently. I feels sorry the people who live on tourists in Amsterdam for instance. It will get much easier to find an hotel room there ...

By Philippe | 30 October 2012 1:46 PM

@CW Just think next time you visit France that you are not allowed to buy or drink wine because you don't live there. I won't feel any sympathy.

By Philippe | 30 October 2012 1:49 PM

I don't care what people do on their vacations. I just find the whinging annoying because it's so TRIVIAL! If this is such a problem for you, then you have no problems, congratulations!!

Omg...I find myself agreeing with Andre L!! lol

Oh please, Philippe, people are whinging because their main reason for coming here was the pot! That's just pitiful! Nobody goes to France just to booze it up unless they have a problem!

And, yeah I tried smoking the stuff back in the 70s. I puked my guts out every time. Wat leuk.

By CW | 30 October 2012 3:59 PM

@CW, when I was 21 I went to Amsterdam to experience an environment where cannabis users were not treated like 'druggies', and bullied by ignorant people. i came to experience the sanity and freedom. I came to smoke cannabis, but it was a lot more than coming to Amsterdam just to get high. Sure, me and my friends visited parks, markets and canals completely sober. But it seemed like a dream where you didnt face prison or arrest for smoking something safer than aspirin. Thats what enticed us, we could smoke cannabis at home, but we wanted to smoke legal (or tolerated) cannabis for the experience. I do believe it should be legally regulated.

By SourLion | 30 October 2012 4:35 PM

I understand their point of view wanting to stop it... I know loads and i mean LOADS of people who want to visit the beautiful city, take in the sights and smoke weed. Its the primary reason why i choose to visit the city.

Fact of the matter is i wont be going back if i cant smoke weed there. As i assume thousands if not more will feel the same.

Holland was seen as a country of tradionally liberal views. Now its just becoming part of the capitalist shite we have in other countries.

If i cant smoke weed in Amsterdam, ill see you all in British Columbia then...

By Teddy | 30 October 2012 5:50 PM

@philippe: what you (and many others on this site and else) forget to understand, no matter how people try to explain, is that cannabis is not a legal product, but a merely tolerated one.

The whole thing is about shielding youths from drug dealers, not providing some "atmosphere" for tourists.

I bet some cities would gain some money if taggers were legalized there, or if dog cage fights were allowed. That doesn't mean cities should start making those activities legal!

By Andre L. | 30 October 2012 7:40 PM

To make Cannabis illegal while tobacco and alcoholic beverages are freely sold would be *MURDEROUSLY STUPID*.

-San Jose California

By Rick Steeb | 31 October 2012 1:02 AM

@Andre L The basic fact is that cannabis is less dangerous than alcohol, although teenagers should stay away from both. That's why politicians who make such rules are liars. Drinking causes much more social troubles and health problems than weed.
But prohibition never worked anywhere.
Now, why make different rules for travellers ? Could this be legal ? I doubt it.

By Philippe | 31 October 2012 8:52 AM

cw you say you originally come from a country where you had limited choices in life(whither this is due to oppression or poor economic/environmental development or other reasons that i may not comprehend)and that you left to enjoy the freedoms available in other country's. yet now you believe that these same freedoms should be withheld from all non registered nationals of the country, in which you now live. freedom of choice is a must for a so called free nation.

By Adrian.N | 31 October 2012 8:57 AM

P.s would non residents still be able to visit smart shops, because i believe the dutch people would prefer a bunch of stoned foreigners chilling in a coffee shop than them walking around off the heads on whatever they can get their hands on.

By Adrian.N | 31 October 2012 9:12 AM

I moved here from Canada to live with my Dutch husband, Adrian N. I chose a man, not a country.

Any so-called "limited choices" were merely due to raising my son by myself after a divorce.

I have no issues with "freedom of choice" or even with pot, regardless of whether I smoke it or not.

I have issues with the passion that people have over this issue all out of proportion to the issue. I wish people would channel all this anger and indignation over hunger or poverty or animal cruelty...a REAL issue, rather than one's right to be stoned. Everyone just sounds so damned spoilt and privileged, it breaks my heart...

By CW | 31 October 2012 9:46 AM

You guys are making nice sounds for a change. I promise I'll revisit your country once you're back to that trademark Dutch civilization thing. But not before you do so, because until that happens I won't really feel all that welcome in your otherwise wonderful country.

By Jesper Kristensen | 8 November 2012 12:53 PM

I live in Florida USA, I am 60 and have been visiting Amsterdam for 15 years, and until now have never felt unwelcomed.
Two US states just legalized weed. Washington state is 1300 miles closer than Amsterdam. I think Amsterdam will be less inconveinienced by American pot tourist dollars going forward. Too bad I love the DAM and the Dutch people.

By Albert A. Johnson | 8 November 2012 8:05 PM

@CW: On your posts both in expatica and here you always complain about lack of sympathy from locals and intolerance. Yet when a group of people doesn't share your priorities or you just think they're overreacting you advocate intolerance? Maybe you should let go of double standards...

By Neo | 8 November 2012 9:48 PM

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