Dutch coffeeshops about to disappear?

The mayor of Maastricht, Gerd Leers, has announced that a ‘weed-congress’ will soon be held in his city. The current policy of tolerance regarding the sales of cannabis will be discussed by the mayors of all border municipalities. The outcome of this conference may have a nationwide impact.

Main reason for the conference is the increase in nuisance problems caused by French and Belgium ‘drug tourists’, after some large coffeeshops in border towns were shut down by authorities earlier this year. The municipalities of Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom have already decided to shutdown all coffeeshops within their boundaries. Maastricht aims for a clear-cut policy, thereby trying to keep each municipality from relocating the problem to surrounding areas.

The conference should lead to a common view, which will then be presented to the parliament. In view of the fact that some major governing parties are anything but pleased with the current toleration policy, the situation is unlikely to improve for Dutch marijuana enthusiasts.
Recently the most powerful coalition party, Christian Democrats (CDA), has urged the necessity of a coffeeshop-free zone of 500 metres between primary schools, and 250 metres within secondary schools. That means about 70 percent of all coffeeshops in Amsterdam are on the brink of having to close their doors. These new regulations are to come into force in 2011.

Dutch growers are also put under heavy pressure by their conservative government. This week a member of the Parliament once again urged for closure of so called ‘grow shops’ (shops selling equipment for marijuana cultivation). Last year in November a majority of lawmakers said they supported such a move. Furthermore last week the Dutch police force presented their latest reinforcements in the battle against marijuana farms: a so called ‘cannabissniffer’, a mobile training centre and remote controlled helicopters.