On May 1st, tourists passing through the Southern Provinces of the Netherlands will be legally barred from entering and purchasing marijuana from coffee shops thanks to a Dutch judge’s (asinine) ruling today. While the decision will not affect Amsterdam’s cafes until next year, coffee shop owners all over the country are (and have been for quite some time) in an uproar over the now imminent ‘Weed Pass’ law.
The Dutch judge concurred with government lawyer Eric Daalder’s belief that legally prohibiting tourists from purchasing cannabis will decrease “criminality linked to the drug trade.” In other words, by putting this law into affect, Dutch legislators believe that less foreign cartels will send in drug-toting infidels across Dutch borders. It’s both a naive and a false belief.
The only feasible outcome here is a giant headache for both the government and coffee shop owners who will now appeal the ban. And even if their appeal is unsuccessful, don’t expect many changes to the Netherlands’ biggest tourist attraction any time soon.
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.
The government had no immediate reaction to Friday’s ruling.
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.
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. [Huffington Post]
As this excerpt indicates and as we noted when we first told you of this potential ruling, coffee shops have absolutely no intention of heeding this decision. And really, why would they?
Sure, the city of Amsterdam and its breathtaking canals are a draw. But there’s one and only one reason that college-aged Americans flock there during Spring Breaks or while studying abroad: for its legendary weed and cultural experience with said weed. And these tourists play a huge role in sustaining Amsterdam’s economy, from hostels to french fry vendors to, of course, the coffee shops.
And with hundreds of cafes in the nation’s capital city, enforcing this said ‘Weed Pass’ would be near impossible. Since the cafes clearly won’t be policing themselves, that’d mean a policeman would need to be stationed at every cafe in the country checking ID’s and turning away anyone who flashed a passport. That is both a waste of resources and an unrealistic outcome.
So let’s say the ban does eventually take affect in Amsterdam (which I still doubt every happens). Does that mean Americans should avoid Amsterdam and visit a city like Prague instead? Not necessarily.
Along with the aforementioned outcome (shops ignoring the ruling), let’s say that some coffee shops actually do heed the ‘Weed Pass’ rule. There will always be a few renegades. When I visited the city some 4+ years ago, I was informed that ‘shrooms would be impossible to find in the city now that they were legally banned.
This couldn’t be further from the case. There were still numerous exotic plant shops (selling items ranging from ‘shrooms to peyote seeds) in play. All you had to do was walk into one of these and express an interest in ‘shrooms (and if memory serves me right, they were even on display). You’d then be met with an array of options, ranging from Hawaiian ‘shrooms (the strongest and recommended variety) to Mexicans (the schwag of ‘shrooms).
If “banned” ‘shrooms were that easy to come by, I fancy finding “banned” weed will be much easier. Drugs are a part of Amsterdam’s culture, and one that a ruling like this will not affect. Considering marijuana will still be legally sold in cafe shops, there’s a fat chance that this has any real affect on the way Amsterdam operates.
Does this ruling make you more hesitant to take a trip to Amsterdam?