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Europe: Dutch Government Wants "Members Only" Cannabis Coffee Shops

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #600)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

In a letter leaked to Dutch media, three key Dutch ministers wrote that the government wants to maintain the country's famous cannabis coffee shop system, but that it should be "members only" so the coffee shops will no longer attract foreign "drug tourists." The ministers of justice, home affairs, and health wrote that reducing drug tourism and reducing the number of coffee shops would help reduce crime and public nuisances associated with them.

Bulldog coffee shop, Amsterdam (courtesy
Border town coffee shops in particular have been inundated with pot smokers from neighboring countries with more repressive policies, hordes of which have led to complaints of everything from traffic congestion to public urination to other drug dealing. The other criminality associated with the coffee shops comes from Holland's inconsistent policy of tolerating retail cannabis sales and possession while continuing to prohibit the licit growing of cannabis to supply those shops.

While the government was expected to issue a position paper on changing the coffee shop policy later this fall, Tuesday's leaked letter provides a clear indication of where the government is heading: toward "members only" coffee shops. While discriminating by nationality within the European Union would violate EU law, it appears the Dutch government will try to bar foreigners by requiring a Dutch bank card to purchase cannabis.

According to the letter, the ministers are also open to experimenting with allowing coffee shops to stock larger quantities of the herb. Currently, shops can keep only 500 grams on hand, resulting in a network of drug runners scurrying about Dutch cities and towns with fresh cannabis supplies.

The three party coalitions that make up the conservative national government have basic disagreements about coffee shop policy, with the Christian Democrats and allied parties wanting to dismantle the shops, but with the Labor Party in favor of keeping them. A more restrictive coffee shop policy in the near future, but leaving the shops open, is the most likely result.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

A ridiculous policy to pursue - members only coffee shops that sell pot/hash. Come on! This has worked well and should exist in every country!
You can overdose from WATER - but not from Pot!

Can't we get past the bulls*** and legalize it?!

Sat, 09/12/2009 - 12:37am Permalink

I notice in the article that the christian democrrats want to dimantle the coffee houses. Well, what else is new? I am so tired of people with "religion" trying to tell the rest of us how to live. I think I want to form a coalition to dismantle all christian churches. Let's see how well that goes over. Leave me and others alone and let us live the way we choose. Let me also point out that if any religion were capable of understanding the true nature of god they would hang their heads in shame and ignorance.

Sat, 09/12/2009 - 7:32am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by DBH (not verified)

I firmly agree that people with religion need to keep in mind that freedom to pursue religion also means freedom From religion as well! Cannabis needs to be legal worldwide. It is by far the safest mind altering substance on planet earth! and also has many health benefits from therapeutic/recreational use and also nutritionally speaking.

Down with all these religions/cults! They're annoying and try to force their beliefs on the rest of us and I'm sick of it!

Sun, 09/13/2009 - 2:04am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The Dutch are trying to prevent tourists from buying at coffeeshops because other countries are freeriding on their reasonable drug policy. If Belgium et al also had a reasonable way to buy marijuana/hash legally tourists would not piss around Dutch shops.
Just in case someone turns this into an argument that "See, even the Dutch are pulling back?" the answer is they are not. They are simply reducing the unconmpensated benefit to their neighbours.

Tue, 09/15/2009 - 10:37am Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

The Amsterdammers have been down this road (canal?) before, and in each case no restrictions on tourists were ever imposed.

Ultimately, someone has to realize that the only possible consequence of preventing tourists from buying marijuana from Dutch coffee shops is the creation of a black market for weed on the streets, thereby increasing the national crime statistics by definition.  The Dutch will never stand for it.

Perhaps some Labour Party people will strap a few of religious zealots to chairs and force them to listen to the facts of life.


Tue, 09/15/2009 - 7:48pm Permalink

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