Dutch Government Plans to Make Cannabis Cafés Member-Only Clubs; Foreigners Need Not Apply


Last Friday the Dutch government said it is proceeding with plans to stop foreigners from visiting "coffee shops" that sell marijuana. Under the government's plan, all marijuana cafés, which have been tolerated for three decades although they are still technically illegal, would be transformed into member-only clubs. Legal residence in the Netherlands would be one requirement for joining. Having received approval from the European Court of Justice, which in December ruled that such a policy would not violate the E.U.'s single-market rules, the government was supposed to be waiting for a decision from the Council of State, the Dutch constitutional court, which is considering a café owner's challenge to a local ban on foreigners. But in a letter to the Dutch parliament on Friday, the health and justice ministers said they intend to implement the new policy in border areas by the end of this year and in the rest of the country by the end of 2012. "In order to tackle the nuisance and criminality associated with coffee shops and drug trafficking," they wrote, "the open-door policy of coffee shops will end."

Richard Cowan, a former national director of NORML and longtime marijuana reform activist who lived in Amsterdam in the 1990s, doubts that. "By the end of next year," he says, "it is more likely that tourists will be sitting in the coffee shops than the current cabinet will be sitting in The Hague." He argues that the current conservative government is weak and won't last, that (judging from polls) "most Dutch want cannabis to be legalized completely," and that marijuana, including tourist income from coffee shop visitors, "is a huge business in Holland," especially in Amsterdam, where the city council opposes the new national policy.

[via the Drug War Chronicle]

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  1. Can I still just get a coffee?

    1. As long as it's not mixed with alcohol. And as long as it's served in another establishment, one that doesn't also sell cannabis. See, it's totally reasonable.

      1. I don't know if you're being sarcastic, but I only found one coffee shop that sold pot, booze, and food - Barney's. It was also the best one we went to. Barney's uptown was playing '90s hip hop, and there was also regular Barney's down the block.

        1. I don't know if you're being sarcastic


          1. Guess I should head home and pack a fresh one.

            Seriously though, I didn't find any other coffee shops that had booze too. I was surprised by that.

            1. It's been a while but there was a place across the street from the police station in the red light district that had heinies and weed.

        2. "... Barney's ... was the best one ... Barney's ... was playing ... hip hop ..."

          Well, at least everyone knows you really were high.

          1. Barneys is a tourist trap, head away from town centre to find great little ones, best shops are outside the DAM anyway. But this will not last, they will never go by theese rules

  2. That's either crickets chirping or my tinnitus is acting up:
    Did I miss where Reason was all over this story or do the Hit & Run editors not find it newsworthy that Rand Paul doesn't believe in the First Amendment?


    "But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that's really an offense that we should be going after -- they should be deported or put in prison." - Rand Paul

    1. The story seems confined to the wackier more partisan corners of the internet. "I guess he wants to lock up his own supporters" is the extent of the analysis.

      1. Balko's got it linked.

        1. Where?

          1. The Agitator

            1. And he couldn't even mention it on Reason? Radley WTF?!?

              1. Dude, calm the fuck down. Radley doesn't work for reason any more.

                1. It's okay now, I think that killed it.

                  1. No outrage over this by anybody?

                    1. Outrage is for the left. We're cynical enough to not let shit bother us every second of every day.

                      Except for the odd police nutpunch.

                    2. No outrage over this by anybody?

                      Let's do the math. Someone in the government said something about limitations to the constitution.


                      Yeah, nothing new here.

                      And by the way, if you look at the Volokh 'larger context' quote, it makes Rand Paul's statement slightly more complex- albeit still deeply concerning.

                      It makes it look like he's suggesting we quit fondling little old ladies in the security line at the airport, and look for people who are associating with the real radical elements of Islam.

                      That's my most charitable interpretation. But I have no dog in this fight.

      2. Don't you think this is something that should at least be mentioned on this site though?

    2. Good article. Hopefully Rand Paul was just spouting some quasi-Patriotic bullshit to polish Hannity's balls. Otherwise, if this is how he really feels, I will have to examine his policies more closely. I was kind of neutral with his affiliation with the Tea Party movement. I hope he isn't going to pander to the more "God-fearing Patriots who Support Our Wars and Hate the Obamanazi" faction.

      1. Sadly enough, crazy and flawed as Little Paul can be, he's still a huge fucking improvement over 95% of our politicians.

  3. Doncha just love how a law banning foreigners from boing into a coffeeshop doesn't violate the EU prohibition on discrimination against foreigners?

    You'd think the EU Court of Justice was angling for the next SCOTUS vacancy.

    1. Thread winner.

    2. Agree + 1000

    3. I'm guessing they decided it was OK because it was illegal activity according to treaties they're all signatories of.

      1. And it would still illegal for legal residents. Again, leave it to the high courts to fix an illegal status with an illegal law.

  4. "He argues that the current conservative government is weak and won't last..."

    If there's one thing about democracy that's universally true?

    It's that politicians facing tough elections use use handwaving and wedge issues as a default strategy--everywhere.

  5. If the Dutch don't clamp down on dope, they'll be the next target of NATO airstrikes.

    1. This would lower the number of reasons to visit Amsterdam to zero. Most boring city on the planet.

      1. The hookers on the Reeperbahn are just as hot, and the beer is better there.

      2. Yes, but it is also crazy expensive.

  6. It's surprising just how much is illegal in the Netherlands. All my young, impressionable youth I was under the impression that Amsterdam was a veritable hotbed of legal drugs.

    Magic mushrooms have recently been banned.

    Heroin, cocaine, amphetamines are all illegal. Ecstacy was made illegal in 1988 and given "high priority" for prosecutions.

    And yet this country is arguably miles ahead of us with its approach to drug use. Depressing, isn't it?

    1. How recent was the Psilocybin ban? A wide variety of mushroom strains were available OTC in the smart shops just last month.

      1. November 2008.

        Read down article for a good laugh:

        The Netherlands agreed legislation in July to ban cigarette smoking in bars and restaurants. However the euphemistically labelled "coffee shops" where soft drugs can be selected from a menu remain open and smokers can puff on a roll-up of marijuana on the premises, provided tobacco is not used.

        OMG, but... TOBACCO!

        1. Hmm, did some more nuanced searching. It looks like the much weaker 'fresh' magic mushrooms are legal:

          Currently in the Netherlands the sale of dried magic mushrooms - in which the psychoactive chemicals psilocybin and psilocin are stronger - is banned but fresh mushrooms are allowed.

          This is because it is more difficult to ascertain how much of the chemicals fresh mushrooms contain. But Mr Van der Weegen said this was exactly the issue

          1. That would explain it. The shops had a couple dozen different types, all fresh in the type of plastic tub that fresh herbs are sometimes found at the supermarket. We tried a strain purporting to come from Mexico; it was quite nice, a great way to wander around the Albert Cuyp Market. On the pricey side but I grew up in Florida cattle country where mushrooms grow wild and free for the taking so paying anything for them sorta rubs me the wrong way.

    2. All my young, impressionable youth I was under the impression that Amsterdam was a veritable hotbed of legal drugs....and women but that didn't work out either 😉

    3. And yet this country is arguably miles ahead of us with its approach to drug use. Depressing, isn't it?

      I don't think its arguable at all. They could roll out their new "THEY TUK OUR JOINTS!!!" policy for coffee shops, and still be light-years ahead of the barbarians setting drug policy here in the land of the free.

  7. It sounds like an incredibly stupid move considering how many English folks I met there on a random Friday over the summer. Do they want to kill 50% of their tourism? Give me a break. I'm sure most business owners would see this as a huge loss of revenue for themselves, and act accordingly.

    1. They've deluded themselves into believing that the tourists come for the architecture, The Anne Frank House, and all of the shitty shitty bicycles, but not the dope(of course not!).

      1. You know who else came for the Anne Frank house?

        1. LOL! And I always mean that literally. Gotta credit the setup line too.

    2. Fuck, the less English tourists in Amsterdam the more that will be everywhere else in Europe, including where I live and vacation. English tourists suck worse than Ben Affleck in Pearl Harbor.

  8. Haha good luck with tourism. Of course there's all the other things in the Netherlands that make the trip worthwhile, like, um...

    1. Hookers!


    2. I spent a week in Amsterdam and was ready to go home after 3 days.

  9. If you're against angry or hateful immigrants, wouldn't it make sense to encourage them to smoke pot? Just a suggestion.

    1. Perhaps an effort by Geert Wilders and co to gain the sharia vote after their public tiff with teh mooslumz by showing solidarity with the straight edge dogma.

  10. HA-HA! More evidence that the drug filled libertarian utopia is recognized as a dystopia by those who actually have to live in it.

    1. Libertopia?!?!?!

      Are you fucking kidding me?!?!?!

      They have public ROADZ!!1!!1!!

    2. Libertarian utopia? The stupid is strong with this one.

      1. HA-HA! Reformulation: the main libertarian thing about Dutch society is causing problems and the Dutch know it. HA-HA!

        1. The majority of problems cited by Dutch politicians occur because cultivation remains illegal yet tolerated while consumption is merely decriminalized and sale is permitted. This creates a grey market where people that need to launder money can do so easily by using the dirty money to grow and sell pot. As soon as the pot is sold the money is legit. Now who needs to launder money but criminals? It doesn't take a genius to imagine that criminals would be attracted to cultivation and that is exactly what has happened. Since business is good, the criminals become more empowered and wealthy. That capital is used to fund other criminal ventures. They conservatives are trying to hobble the market to counteract this criminal element not to reduce the number of fucked up tourists pissing in the streets. He'll they give you a wall with a hole on which to piss in the middle of the street.
          As far as libertopia, I think the taxes and socialized medicine pretty much rule that out.

          1. (Skr makes excuses, blah, blah, blah)

            Vice industries are always controlled by low-life scum seeking easy money whether the industries are legal or not. HA-HA!

            1. Changing the law doesn't make low-life scum disappear, and there's nothing wrong with someone trying to earn money. Derp.

              1. "Changing the law doesn't make low-life scum disappear"

                No, but encouraging vice industries to locate near you is like spreading dog shit on your lawn - it will bring the flies. You may own a dog and have a small fly problem, but there's no reason to make it a big problem by gathering dog shit from other people and spreading it around on your property. The Dutch have figured this out. HA-HA!

                "there's nothing wrong with someone trying to earn money"

                Some ways are better than others. Promoting vice industries is usually the act of governments or nations which have limited economic activity in "respectable" industries. Indian casinos, gambling in Monte Carlo, prostitution for tourists in impoverished countries are all examples. The Dutch have strangled their own economic growth in respectable industries so they have been trying to make up the growth by promoting vice. Fools, they listened to drug-crazed libertards. HA-HA!

                1. Right instead of regulating vice industries and bringing them under the pervue of the law is sooo much worse than giving criminals handouts in the form of a lucrative black market. It is obviously soo much better to give up control and enrich the thugs so they can more easily commit other crimes. Again, the stupid is strong with this one.

            2. I see you argument is an elitist moral argument with the substitution of low-life scum for criminals. I think the alcohol industry which is an industry of vice pretty much blows your argument out of the water. Unless of course you consider every large and small scale brewer/vintner to be low-life scum. But then what else should we expect from a monkey that throws around absolutes like feces.

    3. You mean the immigrant filled libertarian utopia, right? The natives can still do drugs, Mr. Reading Comprehension Impaired.

  11. Legal residence in the Netherlands would be one requirement for joining.

    Perhaps this is just a misguided effort to bolster a shitty real estate market?

  12. The really crazy thing is that the Dutch voted in office the first (classical) liberal prime minister since the Second World War. And now his party is flip-flopping on Sunday shopping, getting rid of the blasphemy laws, cannabis, abortion, the firing of homosexual teachers and whatever not.

  13. Waiting...

    Is this thing on?

    1. We applaud the efforts of the Dutch gov't to end the sinful ways of the drug user. We do, however, envy them their public roads.

  14. Is that light in the second floor above the coffe shop from Ikea?

  15. No worries, Mr. Bouncer, I am not American, I am, like, totally Dutch . . . I just love tulips and windmills and . . . you know, going Dutch. And Gouda cheese is simply amazing!

    1. And I so admire William of Orange, not just for invading England, but for being out and proud *way* ahead of his time!

      1. Plus Fin/Cre are some great traits to have.

      2. And mayonnaise on french fries!

  16. May I suggest a bill that would make it illegal for the Dutch to use our crack houses.

    1. Don't stick you weiener in this one , Weiner.

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