Is the end of legendary Amsterdam in sight? A judge at The Hague District court issued a ruling that clears the way for the introduction of the “weed pass” in the Netherlands southern provinces on May 1. The pass will roll out in the rest of the country — including Amsterdam — next year. It will turn coffee shops into private clubs with membership open only to Dutch residents and limited to 2,000 per shop. These changes are the most significant rollback in years to the traditional Dutch tolerance of marijuana use.
The government argues that the move is justified as a way of cracking down on so-called “drug tourists,” effectively couriers who drive over the border from neighboring Belgium and Germany to buy large amounts of marijuana and take it home to resell. The tourists cause traffic and public order problems in towns and cities along the Dutch border. The conservative Dutch government introduced the new measures saying it wants to return shops back to what they were originally intended to be: small local stores selling to local people.
However, these so-called southern problems are virtually nonexistent in Amsterdam where the small, smoke-filled coffee shops are visited by thousands of tourists each year — mostly youngsters who consider smoking a joint to be part of the essential Amsterdam experience alongside visiting cultural highlights like the Van Gogh museum and the canals.
Though the weed pass policy was designed to resolve traffic problems facing southern cities, later studies have predicted that the result of the system would be a return to street dealing and an increase in petty crime — which was the reason for the introduction of the tolerance policy in the 1970s in the first place. Coffee shop owners in the southern city of Maastricht have said they plan to disregard the new measures, forcing the government to prosecute one of them in a test case.
HMJ is following this story. You might want to check on flights to Amsterdam. Learn more in USA Today.
[image: Google images Netherlands flag]
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