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Friday 22 August  
Protests against the weed pass
Robert Chesal's picture
Maastricht, Netherlands
Maastricht, Netherlands

New cannabis rules not working

Published on : 9 July 2012 - 11:27am | By Robert Chesal ((C) IVESONE.COM)
More about:

The new rules affecting the sale of cannabis in coffeeshops in three southern Dutch provinces are having an adverse effect according to a new study. The "weed pass" was introduced in the regions on May 1 this year.  
The introduction of an obligatory membership card for coffeeshop customers has resulted in a sharp increase in the illegal street sale of cannabis and the emergence of a large and elusive network of telephone numbers that can be called for the supply of the drug.
Drug tourism
Researchers Nicole Maalsté and Rutger Jan Hebben have published these conclusions in a study commissioned by Epicurus, a private foundation dedicated to tracking the effects of the ‘weed pass,’ as it is widely called.
The weed pass was introduced in an attempt to stem the wave of "drug tourists" from Germany, Belgium and France who regularly crossed the Dutch border to buy cannabis in coffeeshops.
"We want cities and towns in the rest of the Netherlands to know what they can expect when the weed pass rules take effect there," said Maalsté, a senior researcher at the University of Tilburg. The government in The Hague had earlier announced it intended to introduce the weed pass in the rest of the Netherlands.
The police have insufficient capacity to tackle the new forms of cannabis trade that have sprung up, the researchers found.
More illegal dealers
Cannabis in a coffeeshop costs at least 25% more than it does on the street. Particular groups are now avoiding the coffeeshops: the 18 to 24 age group and cannabis users with a non-Dutch ethnic background. "It is highly unlikely that these groups will stop smoking cannabis en masse," the researchers concluded. Illegal dealers are not concerned with the age of their customers, and they also sell other drugs besides hashish and marijuana. "This is raising the risk that young people buying cannabis will come into contact with hard drugs."
The researchers found several minorities are involved in the illegal sale of cannabis in the southern Dutch provinces. These include ethnic Moroccan youths from the more northern cities of Utrecht and Rotterdam, as well as Albanians, Hungarians, Romanians and people with an immigrant background from northern France. One coffeeshop owner from Roermond counted 25 drug runners in a single day: "The street dealers work in shifts. They come by train or car, work their shift and go back to the city where they live."
In the southernmost province of Limburg, it is mainly ‘well-behaved’ minors who are being recruited to sell on the street. In the city of Geleen, a 9-year-old boy on a bicycle was arrested for asking passers-by whether they wanted to buy drugs.  


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D Johnson 18 August 2012 - 4:26pm / U.S.A.

I hope the Netherlands will not follow in the foot steps of the U.S.A. Here in Washington D.C. ,where I reside , the marijuana laws are disproportionally enforced against ghetto young people.
Further more these convictions stay on their record for life. It keeps them from jobs housing etc.
The fact that the dealers can not call the police and say someone robbed me means that makes the a target for robbery so of course many of them are armed .
Please keep your country a place where you can walk the street at night and where All people including vistors enjoy the same rights.

Max Harmreduction 11 July 2012 - 4:10am

The old coffeeshop policy was left by Gov's with the back-door-problem. That farce kept organised crime
IN the weed market and forced coffeeshops to buy what their customers want from the criminals. Common sense would have left coffeeshops to grow their own or commission someone to grow it - that would have kept organised crime OUT of the weed market in the first place. This is why the criminals have been so damn quick to take over the weed market - and now they can push hard drugs onto people who do not want them. Gov tax laws forced the coffeshops to charge customers twice the price charged by organised crime - another PRO-organised crime move. Gov also stopped coffeeshops selling ounces and then strong weed too - laws that suit organised crime perfectly. What will these politicians do next? Legalise drugs like heroin too? Anything FOR organised crime seems possible.

Marty 10 July 2012 - 10:53am / UK

It's time they just decriminalised drugs, at least soft drugs like weed and ecstacy etc, full stop. Then they can use the money raised from tax revenue on selling the stuff in coffeeshops to improve education on drug issues for kids, on policing, and best of all the police won't waste countless man hours chasing drug crime they can't begin to deal with and be able to turn instead to chasing real criminals.

It's a no brainer... but then politicians have no brains and no balls.

Max Harmreduction 10 July 2012 - 12:59am

So hard to believe the Gov has done this. Coffeeshops were designed to protect youngsters who experiment with weed from having exposure to drugs like heroin and their organised criminal suppliers. So now Gov expects experimenting youngsters to get registered with Gov to get a Wietpas; to carry it in public to get in; to log it onto the coffeeshop computer; all this to get 3 grams a day of legally weak weed at legally double street prices. What a cruel legalistic joke to force on youngsters. Of course it does not work. So now organised crime gets the legal right to take over the retail weed trade and hire other youngsters to do it for them. Somehow, Gov wants everyone to believe this is to stop drug tourism - this is exactly what happens where ever they come from.

Ricknw 9 July 2012 - 11:52pm / uk

The closer you go towards prohibition, then the greater the rewards for the criminals, no doubt these 'dial a dealers' will also offer other items, if Holland is not careful shortly they will see a rise in harder drug dependencies. Decriminalise, regulate the supply chain for retail outlets, tax the retail outlets at a sensible level and leave the personal growers alone.

jway 9 July 2012 - 11:00pm / US

We like to think that we make our own decisions, but when it comes to cannabis this isn't true. Somebody, many years ago, signed us into the UN's "Single Convention" treaty and turned the United States of America into the UN's lapdog!

Anonymous 9 July 2012 - 10:53pm / USA

And what did they think was going to happen? It's time to legalize!

Anonymous 9 July 2012 - 10:44pm / USA

Is anyone surprised by this? We have been trying prohibition here in the States for decades and look where it has gotten us? Our Southern Border is so dangerous that you could easily be killed or kidnapped by cartels, Mexico has 50,000 deaths in just the last 6 years alone. We have the highest prison population in the world. The demand has gone up, youth consumption has gone up and the only thing that makes sense is a regulated distribution scheme and taxed sales of drugs.

Anonymous 9 July 2012 - 9:28pm / uk

i guess the fire was hot

Anonymous 9 July 2012 - 9:17pm / UK

Everybody including experts knew this would only result in a negative outcome. Did they not like tourists spending money on hotels, travel, food, souvenirs and of course cannabis? In my opinion they should revert to how it was before.

Anonymous 9 July 2012 - 8:51pm / Scotland

the shit sherlock springs to mind...

Anonymous 9 July 2012 - 4:38pm

> The introduction of an obligatory membership card for coffeeshop customers has
> resulted in a sharp increase in the illegal street sale of cannabis and the emergence
> of a large and elusive network of telephone numbers that can be called for the supply
> of the drug.

Wow, that sounds surprisingly like the systems I use to get hold of cannabis in the UK! I've got dealers I can just visit, I know of places I can go where I have a good chance of bumping into a dealer, I've got dial-a-dealers who deliver, I've got dealers I can ring and go and pick up from.

And like the UK Dutch society will get no tax take from the black market, they have lesser means of controlling supply, business disagreements will be resolved outside of civil systems, potentially with violence, etc..

Holland's coffee shop system has always been flawed, the wholesale supply being illegal whilst low level being legal has always been nuts, but wiedpass and other prohibition-ish measures are even more stupid.

Marco Marboni 12 July 2012 - 11:40am

You're forgetting the amount of money it's going to cost taxpayers for convicting these dealers and keeping them in jail.......

nygratefulfred 9 July 2012 - 2:29pm / United States

How will they deal with the loss of tourism?Empty hotel rooms,restaurants,etc.How will the loss of all the sales taxes and business be made up,with increased taxes to the Dutch people?

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