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Amsterdoomed?

We published an article some months ago about the change in the drug laws in the Netherlands. The conservative led coalition government of the country that has been know as the place to be for cannabis lovers decided to change its laws on cannabis by starting to ban tourists from the cannabis café’s.

dutch cannabis cafes tourist banThis new law is supposed to go in effect across the country on the 1st of January 2013, but in May the new law was implemented in southern parts of the country. Research carried out last month shows that the effects of the weed pass in southern regions are not that positive.

In the city of Maastricht for instance, a city with 14 cannabis café’s which used to be visited by hundreds of tourists every day, none of those so called “coffeeshops” remain open to tourists and the streets are flooded with illegal street dealers supplying the demand. There have been more than 400 drug related arrests in the last few months and even a 9 year old drug runner has been spotted. Of course the citizens of the Netherlands realize that this is not the way to go and the majority are against the new laws.

In order to buy cannabis Dutch citizens have to register for a so called “weed pass”, but not a lot of people are interested in being registered in a system as a weed smoker. The Dutch people are pretty inventive and find their own ways to get their beloved herb anyway. When the Dutch government decided to ban magic mushrooms in 2008, more and more people started buying magic mushroom grow kits in a smartshop and start growing their own.

In a survey held in the beginning of this year amongst coffeeshop visitors, only 30% of the people said that they were willing to register for the weed pass. More than 25% said they would start growing their own cannabis and a huge group said that they would simply buy their weed from illegal dealers.

It is unimaginable that Amsterdam will no longer be the place to go for a nice smoke. Currently the city still has more than 200 coffeeshops and millions of people from all over the world visit the city every year. Of course the city’s many museums are a good enough reason for some people to visit the city and you find great headshops and smartshops in Amsterdam, but it would be shame if the legendary cannabis-town changes and becomes a haven for illegal street dealers and shabby quality weed.

As there are several good Dutch online shops like Zamnesia, there will always be a way for people to get their supplies for growing, but Amsterdam would simply not be the same anymore. In September there will be new elections in the Netherlands and there is great hope that the new government will decide not to apply the new law to the rest of the country.

Several parties think the right way to treat cannabis is by regulating the cultivation as this is now a grey area in the Netherlands. It has always been legal to sell cannabis in the coffeeshops but large scale cultivation has always been illegal. This has for many years been the hypocrisy in the Netherlands. On a yearly basis more than 6000 illegal grow ops get busted, but at the same time the coffeeshops have to get their supply from somewhere. It may be clear that this doesn’t make sense and the government could actually get a seriously large amount of tax money from the growers if they would regulate it, but so far this hasn’t been changed.

Might it be that the government finally wakes up and change the course of their drug laws? Or maybe the smartest thing to do for us foreigners would be to make a quick visit to one of the famous coffeeshops in Amsterdam before the 1st of January 2013.

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