Weed pass in southern Netherlands goes in effect May 1st

The Dutch weed pass will go in effect on the first of May for the southern Dutch provinces of Zeeland, Brabant and Limburg, banning the sale of soft drugs to foreigners.

What? Why?

The weed pass (Dutch: wietpas) is a measure that has been pushed by the Dutch government to get rid of foreign ‘drug tourists’, which according to the Dutch police are a prime source of nuisance in the areas around coffee shops, particularly in cities such as Maastricht. The introduction of the weed pass means there are particularly large groups of German and French smokers who will no longer be able to legally buy Dutch weed in the southern provinces.

Essentially, the weed pass creates private clubs. Coffee shops may only sell soft drugs to registered members with a weed pass. To become a member you have to live in the Netherlands and be at least 18. There’s also a maximum of 2000 members per one shop.

Coffee shop owners and personnel are pursuing legal actions in an attempt to stop the weed pass, citing it discriminates foreigners and violates people’s privacy by forcing them to register with name and address.

What now?

The Dutch minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten isn’t worried about the legal action by the coffee shop owners, saying the legislation was thoroughly reviewed by the European Court. One shop owner in Maastricht is however prepared to let it come to a trial by selling soft drugs to foreign tourists after May 1, 2012. Like many others he is concerned of people resorting to illegal channels to obtain their drugs, which in turn puts a much heavier burden on law enforcement than the previous policy of tolerance.

Edit: Unlike we previously reported, January 1st 2013 the weed pass is set to go in effect for the entire country, which at this point also includes coffee shops in Amsterdam, despite opposition from the mayor and municipality.

What do you think of the weed pass?

Read on:

Telegraaf.nl - “Korting geding tegen wietpas” . (Dutch)