Dutch politicians are currently working on an amended proposal regarding the controversial Weed Pass (Wietpas), to resolve ideological differences between the two main parties.
Dutch politicians are currently working on an amended proposal regarding the controversial Weed Pass (Wietpas), to resolve ideological differences between the two main parties. The PvDA (Labour) are opposed to the initiative, but the VVD (Party for Freedom and Democracy), which has a slight majority in the Tweede Kamer, is determined to push it forward.
According to Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, lawmakers in The Hague have hinted that the Weed Pass will not be introduced nationwide, and that Dutch citizens will not be obliged to register and present identification to purchase cannabis. However, foreigners will still be banned from buying from coffeeshops – although it is not clear whether this refers just to tourists or also to non-Dutch residents.
Police add their voice to the opposition
Despite Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten’s insistence that the introduction of the Weed Pass to the southern provinces of Zeeland, Brabant and Limburg has been successful, up to 71% of police officers in those regions are opposed to it. The police union ACP has already expressed lack of confidence in the plan. They cite evidence that due to the increase in street dealing, the rate of petty crime and civil disturbance has risen sharply, as has the costly bureaucracy involved in processing such crimes. As usual, the public is paying the social and financial cost of implementing an unwanted, unnecessary and restrictive piece of legislation.
Southern cities suffer increase in crime and disorder
Following the introduction of the Weed Pass in Breda, many residents have complained to their local authorities that they are troubled by the growing numbers of street dealers, as well as increased noise pollution late at night as cars and mopeds come and go. Coffeeshop owners have complained of an 80-90% decline in takings, as their former customers take to the streets to avoid registration. Similar complaints abound in other cities that have implemented the pass. In Terneuzen, tourists are easily able to buy cannabis from “drop-in houses”, which have become prolific. In Maastricht, Venlo and Eindhoven, reports of public disorder are also on the increase.
The municipalities suffering the consequences of this ill-thought-out plan are, without exception, in favor of renegotiating the terms of the law or dropping it entirely. Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other cities now observing events in the south are adamant that they do not wish to implement the Weed Pass. In the face of such fierce and unanimous opposition, the emerging coalition now being negotiated by the PvDA and the VVD must at least take public opinion into account.
Will the ban on foreigners be effective?
Even under these proposed new terms, it remains unclear how the ban on foreigners purchasing cannabis would be implemented. The tobacco ban is rarely enforced, widely ignored and now amended to exclude small establishments. The fifteen percent rule proposed in 2011, which was expected to be in force by now, has quietly faded from the headlines and been forgotten. It is highly possible that this proposal is yet another half-hearted attempt to convince the rest of Europe that efforts to curb drug tourism are being made. While Opstelten has claimed a sharp reduction in drug tourist numbers since introduction of the Weed Pass, no evidence has been offered up in support of the claim.