Plans released this month for a pass system to exclude non-residents from Dutch coffeeshops are causing concern amongst cannabis users around the world. Citing the problems of crime and ‘social nuisance’ caused by foreign tourists smoking cannabis, the new and still unstable coalition government wants to make the coffeeshops into private clubs where only adults who live in the Netherlands can become members.
It is currently unclear whether this will be overruled by EU law which prevents discrimination in business trading, or pass on the grounds that the substance being traded is not fully legal and therefore not protected by legislation.
What is clear is that, if implemented, this plan will remove most of the revenue generated by coffeeshops- an estimated €1.8 billion per year- as well as costing many coffeeshop employees their jobs, in the middle of an economic crisis.
However, this plan was first discussed by the government in 2003 and still nothing concrete has been announced. Confidence in the new coalition is not high, with a recent poll showing that only 28% of voters expect it to last a full term.
Shamefully, this plan represents a complete reversal of Holland’s successful tolerance policy which has led to the country having the lowest rates of drug abuse in the developed world.