Update on the banning of foreigners from Netherlands Coffee Shops

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Many of us have been listening with trepidation as our favourite pot smoking friends on the continent -the Dutch – the ones who gave us sanctuary in the form of a safe place to buy dope when abroad, and a friendly environment to smoke it in, without the fear of getting busted, deported, imprisoned or ripped off are now slowly being forced to close their doors to us. Yes, that’s right- the foreigners who have appreciated being able to sample a well produced product, toked, eaten or vapourised in a chilled out, social environment – have always been grateful for the civilised and pragmatic way the Dutch have shared with us their wares. A welcome relief from the persecution and harassment many of us experience at home around ‘soft’ (and ‘hard’) drug use.

It never ceased to amaze me when visiting Holland that it was always the milder varieties of dope that were the biggest sellers to the Dutch people, they just didnt feel like they had to get smashed at every opportunity. They knew where the dope was, it wasn’t going anywhere, they could get the stronger stuff any time they wanted it in fact, which it turned out, was not that often.

A giggly smoke, some great conversation, a serious munch out on the way home and voila, gone is the image we have in the UK of smoking skunk that  always too strong, sitting catatonic in front of the TV, curtains drawn, paranoia setting in indoors coz its illegal to go outside and just be social with a spliff…

However, due to surrounding countries still not budging with their own punitive cannabis laws, it is inevitable that many of us in neighbouring countries – or as far afield as Australia and the US, feel compelled at times to skippity hop across the border to stock up on some of the good stuff, in a relaxed and hassle free exchange. But those who’ve been keeping an eye on the Dutch developments around both the shrinking the availability of Coffee Shops, as well as the drive to freeze out the pot smoking foreigner, will know that the first door, in the first city of Maastricht, has been firmly slammed shut.

The city of Maastricht, which is about 130 miles south of Amsterdam (towards the German border) is the first place – (though unlikely to be the last) which has just begun to expell what it sees as the boisterous drug tourists who clog up the streets,  engage in street dealing and petty crime, and regularly cause traffic jams. Determined to prevent them from accessing Maastricht’s coffee shops, hi-tech security scanners have been set up to check passports and ID cards, and police will carry out random checks.

In an effort to bring the coffee shop owners themselves on board with the governments cunning plan, only the Dutch, the Belgians and Germans will be permitted to cross the smokey threshold due to the fact that they make up the largest part of the 6000 customers who  pop in to light up every day.  The irony here is of course that if the vast majority of the 6000 smoking tourists visiting coffee shops in the Netherlands are indeed German and Belgian, how will this go any way to reduce the numbers of ‘drug tourists’ clogging up their streets? There is always more to these drug stories dear readers, so do check back to our earlier story on the Netherlands Coffee Shop ban to uncover a little more about the politics behind it.

However, what can be more easily deduced from this sinister exercise is that blackmarket sales of hash and grass will certainly increase, sold to the illegal alien up a back alley all because his passport won’t allow him to enter the smokey but safe environment of a Maastricht Coffee Shop. Let’s hope our British, Spanish or French friend doesn’t get ripped off, end up in a scuffle or get arrested – after all the cultivation and sale of ‘soft’ drugs is decriminalised – but not legal so one might well stilll end up in the boob.

With over 700 coffee shops across The Netherlands, correspondents say the Dutch justice ministry wants them to operate like members’ only clubs, serving only local residents. Yet despite  previous difficulties when trying to enshrine such an exclusive ban in law, The European Court of Justice ruled last December that Dutch authorities could indeed bar foreigners from cannabis-selling coffee shops on the grounds that they were combating drug tourism.

Check out the video above – it’s the lead story -and follow the link to NORMLs website, which is full of video debates, vox pops and discussions on the world of cannabis.

 

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Dutch step up efforts to ban tourists from coffee shops

Hi, Here’s a depressing news item from The Netherlands on their push to ban tourists from the cannabis coffee shops. Understandable in some ways considering the loud and drunk foreigners who, escaping from their own countries heavy handed laws on smoking socially, come across as rather unappealing in civilized Dutch coffee shops. But thanks to the EU, it may not be quite legal to ban other EU citizens from Dutch shops. When will they learn that people will only head to the street to score? A much less appealing option for everyone, surely? Anyway, here is the article, written 7th Dec 2010.

Using a spate of prohibition-related organized crime violence as a backdrop, the Dutch justice minister and the mayors of five southern Dutch cities said late last week that they will move quickly to implement a number of restrictions on the area’s cannabis coffee shops, including a “members only” pass system designed to keep foreigners out. But critics said such a move would only increase crime and lessen public order.

 

Eindhoven city center (Image courtesty Wikimedia)

After five violent incidents in Eindhoven in recent weeks, the mayors called on Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten to get involved, saying their police forces did not have the manpower to “end the drug war in the south of the country,” according to Die Telegraaf. After a Thursday night “emergency meeting,” the mayors and the minister said they would send in detectives from the national police to fight the violence, and that they would shut down some cafes, use tax and accounting laws to seize criminal assets, and institute a pass system.

The rightist national government wants to institute the pass system nationwide, so its implementation in the south could be viewed as a pilot program for the rest of the country. But it could run into a bump in the road in Brussels. A court case questioning whether barring European Union citizens from Dutch coffee shops constitutes discrimination will be heard next week.

Tilburg University researcher Nicole Maalste told the newspaper Trouw Monday that creating a pass system that bars foreigners from the coffee shops would not reduce violence, but increase it. Tourists who want to buy drugs will simply go to the street dealers to buy them, and many Dutch nationals do not want to be registered marijuana users, she said.

“Which problem do we want to solve with the pass?” she asked. “Eindhoven does not have a problem with drugs tourism.”

The coffee shops aren’t just lying down, either, said cannabis café representative Nol van Shaik in an email to supporters. “The coffee shops of the cities involved in this scheme have spoken out against the pass and its consequences,” he said. “Some of the mayors in the area are in favor of the pass, but half them are against it. There is a lot of criticism from opposition politicians and drug experts,” van Shaik noted.

The criminality that would supposedly be reduced by the Weedpass has nothing to do with the cannabis cafes, van Shaik continued. “It is organized international gangs involved with Ecstasy,” he said.

Van Shaik added that he did not expect the pass system to be implemented unless—and until—the discrimination case before the European Court of Justice is decided several months down the road. “As long as there is no verdict in this particular case, the Weedpass cannot be imposed upon us,” he said.

Eindhoven, Netherlands
 

by Phillip Smith, December 07, 2010, 01:49am Link to the original article is here

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