By contrast, most countries take the view point that recreational drugs are considered detrimental to society. However, famous for its decades of laid-back attitude towards marijuana, the Netherlands will now require coffee shops in some regions to only sell marijuana to signed-up members or citizens who live in the country and not to foreign visitors.
Marijuana in the Netherlands by technicality, is illegal, but has been sold openly for decades in small amounts in designated cafes known as “coffee shops” under the country’s notorious tolerance policy.
Under a newly acquired policy change, as of May 1st, only holders of what is referred to as a “weed pass” are supposed to be allowed to purchase marijuana within three different southern provinces in the Netherlands. Due to the regulations set in place under this change of policy, non-residents are not entitled to be eligible for the “weed pass”, which essentially means that tourists are banned.
In Maastricht, these new Dutch laws to snub out the sale of cannabis to foreign tourists kicked in Tuesday and were met as expected with great defiance. Maastricht, a short drive from both the Belgium and German border, was filled with protesters donning marijuana-leave decorated banners and signs with slogans that read “Dealers Wanted”. In Maastricht’s main square, hundreds of demonstrators staged sit-ins and openly smoked joints alongside a handcrafted, six foot fake spliff. Maastricht’s mayor, Onno Hoes, was presented with a petition that was signed from about 300 coffee shops and various outlets asking for the ban to be removed.
Even the city’s infamous Easy Going coffee shop closed its doors at one point in the day to all customers in protest, claiming that police would just simply have to deal with selling marijuana on the streets occurring instead of behind closed doors. Marc Josemans, owner of the Easy Going coffee shop and head of Maastricht’s coffee shop association, told his clientele, “People, you can come inside without a cannabis card. We are open to everybody.”
The new Netherlands marijuana ban policy isn’t supposed to go into effect in Amsterdam until next year, and there’s a chance it might not ever go into effect. The city of Amsterdam opposes the idea and on top of that, the Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition collapsed last week, which raised many questions about whether a new governing body will preserve the marijuana policy change after elections are held in September.
The new law, originally introduced in January, will allow coffee shops to only admit a maximum of 2,000 registered members whom posses a local address. Politicians in favor of the law say that this measure was taken in order to stomp out crime in relations to drug trades and the limitation of cannabis consumption.
Dutch authorities have also set up large signs over the weekend as well announcing the ban under a new slogan that reads “new rules, no drugs,” while municipality presence has been increased on both sides of the border.