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Coffee Shop Ban Postponed

by Amsterdam.com
​Despite recent efforts by the Netherlands Christian Democrat Party to introduce legislation to put an end to foreigners smoking cannabis on the streets and in the coffee shops of the Netherlands, it appears that the Dutch government is going to delay the bans for a while. Measures to introduce a “weed pass” system that would allow only legal residents of the Netherlands to buy marijuana products have stalled at the beginning of the New Year.
 
The decision was expected to be put into action by the end of the year, but the Dutch government now says it is delaying plans to ban tourists from buying marijuana until at least May of 2012. Cannabis is still technically illegal in the Netherlands, however police have traditionally ignored possession of small amounts and it has been sold openly in designated cafes. Large-scale illegal growers have always been prosecuted though, and now the government wants to begin to put the brakes on the country’s former tolerant cannabis policies altogether.
 
Dutch Justice Ministers have said the ban will help authorities deal with the estimated 4 million French, German and Belgian buyers who drive across the Dutch border annually to purchase the drug, however the roll out of the ban in southern cities planned for January will now be delayed until May. The coffee shop owners are obviously not happy about the proposed pass system and claim it will violate privacy laws, since it requires them to store sensitive information about their customers. Despite the opposition, the Ministers have said the pass system will be applied nationwide in 2013.
 
Critics of the ban plan say it will result in street dealers taking over the marijuana trade, the reason the tolerance policy was introduced to combat three decades ago to address.
The city of Amsterdam has also gone on record as opposing the pass system and points to the large numbers of tourists who may come for the cannabis, but also end contributing heavily to the local economy. The end of an era of tolerant cannabis policies in the Netherlands may be close at hand, but for a little while longer the door is still somewhat open for foreign tourists to experience the coffee shops of Amsterdam.

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