At a coffee shop in The Hague, a member of staff selling weed wears a T-shirt emblazoned with a modified Uncle Sam style poster calling on smokers to “Vote against the weed pass on Sept. 12.” Under the new system, coffee shops become member-only clubs and only Dutch residents can apply for a pass to get in. The cafes are limited to a maximum of 2,000 members.
The online vote2smoke.nl campaign offers cannabis and marijuana users voting advice by showing which political parties support dumping the “weed pass,” which came into force in the southern Netherlands earlier this year and is intended to roll out over the whole country in coming years. Joep Oomen of the legalize cannabis movement says it is hard to know exactly how big the pot-smoking constituency is, but he estimates it at around half a million people in this nation of 16 million.
One champion of the smokers’ lobby is Socialist Party leader Emile Roemer, a jovial 50-year-old former teacher whose party is expected to make significant gains at the Sept. 12 election. Speaking at a campaign event this weekend, Roemer called the weed pass “incredibly stupid” and vowed to scrap it if he wins power. He said the pass system simply pushes drug dealers onto the streets and out of the controlled environment of the coffee shops — “so stop the wietpas,” he said, using its Dutch name.
Jerome Croonenberg, enjoying a joint at The Hut coffee shop in a side street close to the Dutch parliament building, said he would be voting for Roemer because of his coffee shop policy. “I will vote to keep coffee shops open so I can keep smoking,” he said Tuesday.
The center-left Labor Party, which is surging in pre-election polls thanks to strong performances by its leader Diederik Samsom in televised debates, also advocates scrapping the pass and replacing it with legislation that would further enshrine tolerance of marijuana in Dutch law and regulate not only coffee shops but also growers.
Lots more to this interesting, unfolding story and you can find it HERE. It’s an exciting time as re-legalization approaches, isn’t it?
[image: Google images: Netherlands]