Dutch "cannabis card" confusion

2012-05-09 11:33
A week after a contentious roll-out of a new Dutch law to stub out cannabis sales to foreigners, enforcement is in disarray as some police are untrained and several coffee shops have closed in protest.

Drug tourists are simply dodging the "cannabis card" law by heading elsewhere in the country for their fix, since the rule has entered into force in just three southern Dutch provinces so far.

"It takes time for everything to be put into place," Justice and Safety Ministry spokeswoman Charlotte Menten admitted to AFP on Tuesday.

The new law came into effect on May 1 and effectively transforms coffee shops into private clubs as it requires around 80 cannabis cafes in the south to sell only to signed-up members who live in the country.

Its coverage widens nationwide to 590 other coffee shops in 2013, and is aimed at curbing drug tourism linked disturbances such as late-night rabble rousing, traffic jams and illegal drug pushing.
Each shop is allowed to have just 2,000 members, who must be over 18 years old and permanent residents of the country.

But in the tourist-friendly city of Maastricht, now the focal point of a Dutch resistance against the new cannabis law, 14 coffee shops have shut their doors in protest, calling it "discriminatory" and bad for business.

Leading the Maastricht protest, Easy Going coffee shop was open on May 1 and 2 but promptly slapped with a note of summary closure by the municipality for selling dope to Belgians and Germans.
Now "we're going to court," said Marc Josemans, Easy Going's owner who also chairs Maastricht's association of coffee shops. "We were waiting for only one thing: the municipality to close us down."
Willem Vugs, who chairs the southern university city of Tilburg's association of coffee shops complained that "the government wants to implement a nationwide solution to address a local problem in Maastricht."

He said that there is "little or no nuisance from coffee shops" in his city and that business was suffering due to the new law.

But enforcement of the new rule was also patchy, with police in Eindhoven still undergoing training on cannabis checks.

In other areas like Den Bosch, Oss and Uden, police said "cannabis controls are not a priority."
The drug tourists are meanwhile simply going where the new rules do not yet apply, such as Nijmegen, a city about 140 kilometres (87 miles) from Maastricht.

"In recent days, we are spotting cars with Belgian plates in the city centre, who are clearly there for the coffee shops," said a Nijmegen police spokeswoman Florian Vingerhoeds.

"Before, we never saw Belgian plates."

-SAPA

Follow @GoTravel24 on twitter or like our Facebook page for the latest travel updates or come check out our images on Pinterest

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside Travel

 
/News

#FindYourEscape with Traveller24

Your insider guide to exploring South Africa and the world...
 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.