Protestors Refuse the Dutch Cannabis Ban
Post Page Rank
Tourists in the streets of southern Netherlands cities smoked spliffs and defiant coffee shop sold joints to visitors in protest against a ban on the selling of marijuana to foreigners which took effect on Tuesday. In Maastricht, protesters waved banners with marijuana leaves and slogans such as “Dealers Wanted” and “Stop Discrimination for Belgium” related to marijuana legalization. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the main square and staged a sit-in. About 50 protesters openly smoked joints alongside a six-foot-long fake spliff. The new marijuana law rolls back the traditional Dutch policy of tolerance of soft drugs and makes illegal the booming “tourist drug trade.” Coffee shops have become a major attraction in many parts of the country due to easy availability of quality cannabis.
The cafes in three southern Dutch provinces have been closed to the German and Belgian borders from last Tuesday and can sell medical marijuana to registered members only. The mayor of Maastricht was presented with a petition signed by about 300 coffee shop owners and other businessmen asking for the ban to be ended soon. Maastricht’s Easy Going coffee shop closed its doors to all customers in protest and said that police would simply have to handle black market street dealing, instead. Passed by the Liberal Christian Democrat coalition before it collapsed last month, the new law on foreigners in coffee shops was introduced in January and there is a plan to enforce it in the southern provinces next year. Coffee shops will be limited to a maximum of 2,000 registered members, who will be required to have a local address proof. Opponents of the law pointed out that it will drive cannabis users into cannabis black market. Maastricht Mayor said that such concerns were superfluous, and claimed the information would not be useful for anything other than checking the coffee shops’ customers.
Owners of a coffee shop in Tilburg said that his shop hosts about 800 visitors a day, including 150 to 200 a day from neighboring Belgium. Some other coffee shop owners said that local customers including doctors, nurses, lawyers and other professionals do not like to be on record as consumers of soft drugs. For years, the Netherlands has tolerated the sale of up to five grams of medical marijuana per person per day and hashish in the controlled environment of coffee shops. Up to 5 plants per person are also allowed under the Dutch marijuana laws.