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Saturday 20 December  
Weed pass
Louise Dunne's picture
amsterdam, Netherlands
amsterdam, Netherlands

Weed pass "disaster"for tourism

Published on : 20 July 2012 - 10:19am | By Louise Dunne ((C) ANP)
More about:

The introduction of the “weed pass” in Amsterdam will lead to the closure of almost all the coffeeshops in the centre of the Dutch capital. Jan Goos of the Organisation of Cannabis Sellers (BCD) claims this will be disastrous for the Dutch capital’s tourism industry.

The introduction of an obligatory membership card available only to Dutch citizens for people wishing to buy cannabis at a coffeeshop is intended to put an end to “drugs tourism”. This is a particular problem in the south of the Netherlands where large numbers of customers regularly cross the borders from Belgium, Germany and France. The regulation has already been in force in 3 southern provinces since May of this year. It is scheduled to take effect in Amsterdam and the rest of the country on January 1st 2013.

According to figures from the Amsterdam Bureau for Tourism, at least 25 percent of the more than 6 million foreigners who come to the capital annually visit a coffeeshop once or more during their stay. T he BCD claims many of these people will stay away if they are unable to buy a joint legally.

Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool also found that only an estimated ten percent of Dutch Amsterdammers who regularly visit coffeeshops would be willing to register as official members.

The Amsterdam city council is currently discussing with the Justice Minister the possibility of making an exception to the regulations for the capital. The council fears the restrictions will lead to a dramatic increase in the illegal street sale of cannabis. Police in Limburg announced earlier this week that 386 people had been arrested for buying or selling cannabis since the introduction of the weed pass in the province in May.


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Anonymous 8 December 2012 - 5:15pm / United Kingdom

I hope that the Government realise by stopping the Tourist buying weed in the coffee shop will stop all the tourists from coming to Amsterdam.. All the tourists around the world come to Amsterdam to be able to relax an enjoy Amsterdam's weed.. So i personally think they should think before doing this, cos y'all ''will'' lose alot of tourists if you stop all the tourists from buying weed in the coffee shop!

Anonymous 5 December 2012 - 6:02pm / usa

yall know you'll lose a lot of tourist by doing this. I hope yall know this.

Anonymous 6 November 2012 - 10:45pm / Denmark

It's sad.. but i really thinks that the goverment will come to reason when they realize what this will do to tourism..

Me & my friends usually goes to amsterdam once or twice a year to have fun and smoke some weed.. we enjoy the free coulture that we don't have here in denmark. but if this will be true we will not come to visit amsterdam anymore.. because then it's just like any other big city in the world.

so i surely hope that goverment will come to reason and let tourists in amsterdam smoke

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Anonymous 11 October 2012 - 2:01am / Austria

I have come to Holland several times and consider Amsterdam Europe's most beautiful city. However, I have seen all the attractions and visited the towns around Amsterdam (and since I don't drink the nightlife isn't that important to me), therefore the main/only reason I'd have to return is to enjoy the free & open-minded athmosphere of the city (a strong contrast to my home city of Vienna), especially the coffeeshops. If those are gone, so are any plans of visiting again.

Anonymous 13 September 2012 - 3:23pm / Netherlands

The wietpas is actually going to track customers expenditures by taking all transactions via PIN, and when an individual applies for government funding, they will get a decreased amount of money. All transactions are tracked for each individual customer. It's a way of tightening the countries budget in response to recent economic troubles and it wins over many more conservative Dutch. It is already in effect in places such as Eindhoven and Maastricht, where it has gotten a negative reaction, according to at least all Eindhoveners I have met and last time I visited.

Anonymous hun 5 October 2012 - 8:34pm / hungary

Hi Anonymous,
Could you tell me about,what's the situation now in Amsterdam? I will travel there in the end of october, so I'm worry about this a little bit.


Andre Hagdorn 3 September 2012 - 9:04am / Germany

Hi there, i am writing my thesis on this topic and i was wondering where exactly i can find these figures. I googled Amsterdam Bureau for Tourism and i end up on IAmstedam. could you please help me? thanks and kind regards.

buzzy burton 17 August 2012 - 9:16pm / USA

Pass the weitpas in Amsterdam and i. Will stop coming to the Netherlands and go every year voor last 10 jaar

Biafra 23 August 2012 - 10:30am / UK

Didn't the world learn anything from the American Government's prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s? That policy is now widely regarded as the single biggest factor in the Mafia's rise to power. The same sort of thing is very likely to happen in Holland. Do the Dutch government really want to open that Pandora's Box?

Besides, the long term statistics show a reduction in use amongst Dutch teenagers - the "allurement" factor is removed and it's not a big or clever thing to smoke weed. But, what seems on the face of it a self-defeating policy looks likely to go ahead.

Much has been written about the effect of drunkenness vs. the effect of smoking weed, and a few years ago I was talking to a Recorder (junior judge) who worked in a County Court, and who said that his experience was that whereas previously on Monday mornings he saw mostly alcohol and violence cases before him, whereas more recently it was cannabis possession cases. In the county town of which he spoke, he said that acts of violent assault against other people had fallen: he put this down to people heading home for a spliff rather than necking as much beer as they could before closing time and staggering about with dulled sensibilities and an increased propensity towards violence. He was pro-legalisation; and he is also a noted name (and contributes to one of the better known practitioner texts for lawyers). But another (Senior) judge I spoke to said "it would be political suicide for a government in this country to try and legalise cannabis, the Red Tops would have a field day". Is this really a reasoned decision, or a knee-jerk reaction which flies in the face of common sense?

We could have learned a great deal and hopefully, profited, from the Dutch experiment. We in the UK seem condemned to almost Hogarthian scenes in our town centres at closing time, patches of beer-and-kebab vomit and the prone bodies of drunken revellers now decorate pavements, many town centres at night have become places to avoid. Ask the police about our drinking culture. And the Dutch seem determined to re-create those scenes on their streets.

I visit Holland once or twice a year, I spend a little time in coffee shops, and more time and money in cafes, restaurants, hotels and museums. Will I become a better class of tourist if I can't have a smoke? I doubt it, I'll become a statistic, a missing tourist, and spend my money elsewhere. Belgium is a beautiful country, with architecture and museums to equal any in Holland, and chocolate shops to die for, so I'll spend more time there if I go for a weekend break.

Whether the result of this policy will be increased drunkenness or an increase in street crime, or both, it seems that the Dutch government are making a mistake in wanting to appear tough. Perhaps they're right, more likely not. Perhaps they'll learn and resile from the decision. Perhaps it will be too late. In the meantime, I'm going to go to Brussels to spend my money.

Anonymous Canadian 28 July 2012 - 5:47am / Canada

The effect on tourism will have two facets, in my opinion: 1) inevitable loss of tourists who normally come to experience the "free society" associated with the coffeeshop culture, whether or not they actually go to a coffeshop, not to mention those who only come for this; 2) eventual loss of tourists who would come for any other reason, however elect to avoid the risks of visiting a city with rampant street drug crime and violence, which Amsterdam will surely become.

alanposting 25 July 2012 - 11:19am

Forgot to mention to those that think people just come to Amsterdam to smoke pot....Where I'm from, my pot dealer delivers, the cost is cheaper and the pot is better. I love Amsterdam because the coffee shop can be part of your daily life, open and free.

alanposting 25 July 2012 - 11:15am

I live part time in Amsterdam..and if the drugpass starts, I won't be coming back. I spend about 60,000.00 Euros a year. How can such an enlighten country like the Netherlands return to the dark ages so quickly. Yea, follow the americans, so you better start building more prisons and certainly your taxes will go up to support those prisons and the enforcement. I know the Dutch government likes to blame the "mob" for everything, now they can run away with the "mob" scare, so you think its "mob" now, you have not seen anything yet.

Anonymous 22 July 2012 - 3:22pm

wow this is so ridicuous, this will simply take drugs back to criminals, its absurd!

i know that i for one wouldnt be anywhere near as likely to visit amsterdam if this happened, sure im not going just for the smoking, but as has been said, its nice to have the option!

Anonymous 23 July 2012 - 10:09pm / uk

going for one last time before ban, for us its the atmosphere in the coffee shops,meeting like minded people from around the world,its not the same in pubs/clubs etc and contrary to comments made by dutch residents its normally the drinkers who buy coke off street dealers and fighting,rowdy and noisy and not the smokers who cause these problems,but alas we are a minority.

Max Harmreduction 22 July 2012 - 12:57am

If I came to NL, I would get my weed from the same street dealers as I do in Australia - when I can find one who sells it here. All tourists do that in their home nations. So the Wietpas is absolutely nothing to do with drug tourists - not weed tourists anyway. But coffeeshops have been suffering a "die-off" policy for over a decade anyway. It is just more double standards from Gov - like tax laws that tell coffeeshop owners they will be taxed on the basis they charge double the price they buy weed for - and then say they don't tax weed! Or leaving the "back-door-problem" in place so they can say coffeeshop owners associate with organised crime - where else can they get it from? - AND it keeps weed supply in the hands of organised crime too... No, the tourist will keep coming - but without coffeeshops they will have to fight off the street dealers who ONLY want to sell them hard drugs. The Wietpas is just about getting weed users out of coffeeshops and into the famous Dutch heroin smoking rooms and the famous Dutch injecting rooms - it is a very, very cruel hoax.

Anne onymous 22 July 2012 - 2:04am

I agree with most of what you say Max. There is more to it than stopping drug tourists. They can easily stop tourists, but why the strict rules to get a weed pass for residents? I'm a resident, and I can't get one.

Max Harmreduction 22 July 2012 - 7:44pm

My heart goes out to you Anne and all Dutch smokers. Even if you grow your own, if it goes over 15%; or if you make a little hash from it, you get treated like a junkie... The new laws only serve the street dealers and promotes the real hard drugs. Yest I was shocked further to hear about the street dealers who are "loverboys" preying on young Dutch girls - getting them onto cocaine and crack to be raped and used as prostitutes and drug runners. check out: These are the people who deserve the harshest of laws and policing - not weed users.

Anonymous 21 July 2012 - 5:44pm / USA

My wife and I are two seniors who have visited Amsterdam on several occasions for cannabis consumption. It's a wonderful city for wandering, great sights and good eats. The Netherlands is one of our favorite countries to visit period.. Amsterdam is a good gateway city for traveling too and from Europe. I feel the Dutch will reach a practical conclusion on these matters. They are a great people for space utilization and civil decisions.

Anonymous 21 July 2012 - 2:07pm / ENGLAND

my self and my husband visit amsterdam at least 3 times a yr it out favourite city and feel its like home and yes as its not all about cannibis its nice to have the choice and if its banned we certainly wont be visiting im sure itl be costly for the when the tourists stop coming lets hope they get this sorted.

Servetus 21 July 2012 - 2:55am / U.S.

There are two inevitable outcomes with the recent trend to adopt American-style marijuana oppression in the Netherlands.

The first outcome will be street dealing of marijuana to tourists, thereby creating what we in the U.S. know all too well as a criminal insurgency vying for expanded drug territories. Perhaps the reader has never lived in an allegedly modern community where one’s sleep is disturbed by the sounds of gunfire in the night. I have. That’s what it’s like in some places in America with zero-tolerance drug laws. Buy some ear plugs.

The second inevitability will affect the outlying EU countries that are currently so hysterical about marijuana consumption that they are willing to bring a marijuana prohibitionist blight back upon the Netherlands. Once the Netherlands is no longer a cheap and easy source for buying marijuana over the counter, a criminal or gang-like emergence will occur in outlying countries to fill the gap that has been created by the elimination of a clean, safe, fun and quasi-legal cannabis economy once provided by the splendid and hospitable Dutch.

I hope to visit the Netherlands one day again soon. I hope that when I do I will find it as I last left it, filled with coffeeshops, a peaceful oasis of tolerance in an otherwise violent and hate-filled world.

slm0n 15 August 2012 - 4:20pm / Italy

Servetus Yr comment is, for my point of view, just perfect.
These people they just don't know where they are going to if this weed-pass will became reality. I live in Rome, but I've spent long time in US and UK, I know what is the mob, I think they will know as well, pretty soon.

Oren 20 July 2012 - 4:29pm / Israel

"The Amsterdam city council is currently discussing with the Justice Minister the possibility..."
Can you please elaborate on this line? What kind of talks are going on and how serious is it? Is there a post about it somewhere on the web?
Thanks :)

The Green Ninja 20 July 2012 - 3:13pm

We see how well prohibition works in the U.SA. I live in Detroit, and I see the damage every day. Making things illegal only create business opportunities that are enforced by violence. This is such a step backwards for Humanity, don't you see?

The Green Ninja 20 July 2012 - 3:12pm

We see how well prohibition works in the U.SA. I live in Detroit, and I see the damage every day. Making things illegal only create business opportunities that are enforced by violence. This is such a step backwards for Humanity, don't you see?

kevin 21 July 2012 - 8:05pm

You rockin' the med card in Detroit Rock City?

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