‘Weedpass’ splits the Netherlands in two
By Derrick Bergman, G0NZ0 Media, VOC
The so-called weedpass, aimed at excluding foreigners from cannabis coffeeshops to make them “smaller and easier to control” has been enforced in the South of the Netherlands since May 1, 2012. The new rules are to be enforced in the rest of the country, including Amsterdam, on Jan. 1, 2013. This scheme has split the country in two: the free North and the unfree South.
The move to turn coffeeshops into private clubs that are out-of-bounds for tourists has been controversial from the start. Most people expect the only winners will be illegal dealers, who, of course, will sell to anyone. This prediction has turned to reality in the southern provinces of the Netherlands. In the first week of May, happy street dealers showed bundles of cash and bags of cannabis and other drugs on national television, thanking the government for their extra income. They also thanked the mayor of Maastricht, the country’s most southern city, who is one of the few proponents of the weedpass.
The biggest anti-weedpass demonstration to date was staged in Amsterdam on April 20. About 1,000 people particiated in the first-ever 420 Smoke-Out, right in front of the Stopera, Amsterdam’s townhall. Three days later, Prime Minister Mark Rutte tendered his government’s resignation to the Queen.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean the end of the weedpass — the law has already been changed for this purpose. Still, the end of the right-wing government is good news for the cannabis community. The big question is whether the weedpass and private-club laws will be abolished before Jan. 1.
Right now, lots of tourists and Dutch smokers who don’t want to register as ‘club members’ have turned to coffeeshops in the free North to party. If the rules are enforced nationwide, it will be the street dealers who will party. Weedpass will be the central theme of this year’s Cannabis Liberation Day in Amsterdam, June 17, organized by the VOC (Society for the Abolition of Cannabis Prohibition).
More information: www.voc-nederland.org