Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dutch Voters Leave Fate of “Weed Pass” Hanging

Clock Continues Ticking For Pot Tourists in The Netherlands.

AMSTERDAM—Voters in The Netherlands may have lost their final chance to block the nationwide imposition of the wietpas, or so-called "weed pass," as the law of the land in The Netherlands next year. On Wednesday, a crucial election in Holland determined the outline of a new coalition government under the narrowest of leads for the anti-immigration, anti-marijuana PVV party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The election featured a virtual tie with the center-left Labour Party (PvdA) upstart Diederik Samsom, who opposed the idea of closing marijuana shops to foreigners. 
But with 150 seats in the Dutch Parliament, experts say at least six parties will be involved in building a new coalition government. Cannabis advocates were hoping for a clear victory by the Labour Party and strong showings by other liberal parties.

Under legislation that came into effect in the south of the country in May, coffee shops effectively became private clubs, selling cannabis only to registered members, who must be Dutch, and able to prove it. The conservative government maintained that foreign drug criminals were replenishing inventory through the border shops, leading to violence and arrests.

As AP reported last week: “The center-left Labor Party [PvdA], which is surging in pre-election polls thanks to strong performances by its leader Diederik Samsom in televised debates, also advocates scrapping the pass and replacing it with legislation that would further enshrine tolerance of marijuana in Dutch law and regulate not only coffee shops but also growers. However, the coffee shops still have a fight on their hands – the conservative VVD party of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte is topping polls and looks set to become the biggest single party.”

And that, more or less, is how it turned out. With a one-seat margin in various exit polls late Wednesday night in The Netherlands, the sitting VVD Prime Minister will want to stay the course and take marijuana out of the hands of foreigners, starting in January, 2013.

Dutch poll watchers had predicted a tight race between the conservative VVD and the liberal PvdA, with an additional dozen parties likely to land seats in a new coalition government. The VVD's election manifesto specifically supported the weed pass, as did other right-leaning parties in The Netherlands. 

"I don't want to apply for a pass because then everybody could see your personal information," one coffee shop owner told AP. "You don't have to do it in a bar to get alcohol, so why in a coffee shop?"

The only silver lining for pot tourists is a possible scenario in which a VVD-led coalition, having originally introduced the concept of the weed pass, winds up negotiating a centrist mashup in which all parties might be likely to barter away the weed pass in return for other policy favors. Moreover, the far-right PVV party led by Geert Wilders suffered heavy losses.
The Financieele Dagblad writes that in any case, voters will not be happy, "because any coalition is going to cause pain. The jigsaw that is a new cabinet will consist of many pieces. The results will be complex, just as in 2010."

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Eric Johnson said...

You guys are not following up. Since the election, all the large cities' mayors, as well as mayors from Groningen in the extreme north, to cities all along the German Border, and even in the extreme southern towns like Maastricht and Terneuzen, where the "problems" are ostensibly the worst (went to Grad school in Maastricht, afterward working in Amsterdam for a was in Maastricht's coffeeshop district, and I speak read and write Dutch extremely well. I was there in Amsterdam as recently as July) have started screaming fire and murder, to use a Dutch phrase, as these mayors have to now admit that the dealing of cannabis, as predicted, moved quickly to the streets.

Mayors have great authority and political clout in the Netherlands.

The wietpas is falling apart, and only 2 ministers in the current but fallen, caretaker government believe in it's veracity, validity, and workability.

Layoffs, which the Dutch public take very seriously, have already occurred, and the Mayor of Maastricht has expressly and recently argued that the "drugs tourist," in Amsterdam is not the problem they are trying to deal with in Maastricht, (which is actually problematic parking and traffic, according to any of a dozen articles in the International Herald Tribune published in the past 15 years. But on every Wednesday and Friday thousands of people come from all over the region to the market square in Maastricht to buy clothes, food and other stuff that isn't available or is more expensive in Aachen, Germany, or Liege, Belgium, which, together with Maastricht, form a large, and extremely popular metropolitan area.

Traffic complaints here? Parking complaints? No. Why?

The problem, as the former Mayor of Maastricht, Geert Leers, of the Cristian Democrats, the party that brought us the coffeeshops in the 1970s, is the DEMAND for CANNABIS in FRANCE, BELGIUM, and GERMANY.

The problem is not Dutch coffeeshops, unless you define the ability to obtain cannabis without sanction or discrimination to be a problem.

Dutch people will still be able, via a wietpas, to obtain cannabis, so this is not a shut down of the policy.... sorry.

It is only a sort of appeasement of Belgium, which hasn't even been able to form a government for a very long time (>12 months) France, which cannot even bring itself to have a discussion about whether there should even -be- a parliamentary discussion about the legal status in France of cannabis (despite France's flooding of the world with wine and (anti-cannabis) whine, without near fisticuffs between French Members of Parliament occurring, and Germany, although Germany quit whining about Dutch cannabis cafes in the late 1990s, after a major court decision calling Federal cannabis prohibition arbitrary sent the lawmaking about cannabis to the German states. Germany is now considering legalizing cannabis as suggested by Prime Minister Merkel.

Anonymous said...

You are an idiot Johnson . You have no clue as to what your talking about.

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