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Maastricht mayor does u-turn over cannabis club membership

Locals in Maastricht should no longer have to formally register as marijuana users to buy soft drugs from the city’s cannabis cafes, mayor Onno Hoes said in a letter to councillors on Wednesday.

Since May 1, cannabis cafes in the south of the country have been turned into member-only clubs in an effort to keep out foreigners. Only locals, who can prove they live in the area, are allowed to sign up for membership.

Maastricht coffeeshops wee passAccording to Nos television, Hoes says the number of foreigners trying to buy soft drugs has fallen so sharply that the membership cards are no longer necessary.

Official register

At the same time, so few locals have registered as cannabis users that changes need to be made in the way the membership system works. Because locals are reluctant to register, ID and an official council certificate stating where they live should be sufficient to buy marijuana, the mayor is quoted as saying.

Nos says Hoes also hopes this will reduce the number of street dealers who have appeared since the ban was introduced.

The marijuana pass system is due to be introduced in the rest of the country, including Amsterdam, in January next year. Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan and a majority of the city council are strongly opposed.

Amsterdam

Junior justice minister Fred Teeven told the capital’s local television station AT5 on Tuesday the introduction of the pass in the capital would take place in consultation with the city council.

‘The weed card will be introduced in Amsterdam but we will take local government into account,’ Teeven said.

Coffee shop holders welcomed the minister’s statement, saying it showed the government is beginning to change its position.

Election

Meanwhile, opponents of the weed card have been campaigning for the legislation to be reversed in the September 12 general election.

According to Joep Oomen of the legalise cannabis movement voting for any political party on the left is good and any party on the right is bad.

Several parties, including Labour, are also calling for better regulation for marijuana production. Although cannabis is illegal in the Netherlands, users can have up to five grammes for personal use or four plants without prosecution.

Source: dutchnews.nl

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