What’s up with the Amsterdam Weedpass?

Sanne van Oosten

Who else is confused by the Amsterdam Weedpass? It seems to have become a never ending string of intended laws concerning the accessibility of Amsterdam coffeeshops to foreigners. Are foreigners allowed to visit the Amsterdam coffeeshops for some somewhat legal marijuana? Or what? This is exactly what is going on:

For the last two years the Netherlands has had a relatively conservative government. This government decided that coffeeshops selling marijuana should no longer be allowed to sell to foreigners. This was a law that was pleaded for by local governments in the border regions of the Netherlands. The coffeeshops around the borders were being run over by drugs dealers from bordering countries and the local politicians wanted this to stop. Having a Weedpass, that would only be supplied to legal residents of the Netherlands, would bring relief to the border areas of the Netherlands.

So, the government decided they would implement the Weedpass. They started in the south of the Netherlands and intended to implement it in Amsterdam on the 1st of January 2013. But before they could do so, the government broke up due to a completely unrelated issue. New elections were held and a new government was formed. Last week the two political parties that now form the new government of the Netherlands presented their agreement on the intended laws they wish to implement in the country. The Weedpass was also mentioned. Here a literal translation of what was said:

“The Weedpass will no longer be implemented, but entering Dutch coffeeshops will only be possible for people who either have an official Dutch ID or a residence permit, as well as a statement from the civil registry. The implementation of the residency criterion will take place in consultation with the involved municipalities and will be carried out in phases if necessary, whilst adhering to the local coffeeshop and safety policies so there can be spoken of locally customized implementation.” (Regeerakkoord,October 30th 2012, page 29)

So? What? Isn’t the “implementation of the residency criterion” the exact same thing as the Weedpass? Or will Amsterdam be exempt as part of the “locally customized implementation?” The Mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan decided to interpret it the way he wanted. He stated on the news that he was glad to hear that coffeeshops in Amsterdam would remain open for tourists. “Tourists aren’t going to say, than we won’t have any weed. They’ll venture out all over the city in search of drugs. More criminality on the streets, more fake drugs, no control over the quality of the drugs. All the misery we used to have in Amsterdam will come back.”

The Minister of Justice, Ivo Opstelten, was not pleased by these statements. He too appeared before the media and had a spokesperson state that “Van der Laan didn’t have permission to make such statements. The new rules, as stated in the agreement of the intended laws [above], will be implemented on the 1st of January.”

There you have it. Nobody know what will really happen. My educated guess is that the tourists of Amsterdam will be able to continue to buy marijuana at Amsterdam coffeeshops for quite some time to come. People in Amsterdam don’t smoke marijuana all that often and without tourists the coffeeshops would go bankrupt. The owners don’t want this to happen of course, so they’ll do anything to make it possible for tourists to live the Amsterdam stereotype. The Mayor knows this and doesn’t want this to happen. The Minister of Justice was worried about keeping his position as a Minister in the next government.  Just today the same Minister of Justice has been sworn into the new government so his worries are gone. What will happen next? For the time being, the mayor of Amsterdam and Minister of Justice are leaving the outcome nice and hazy, just as hazy as the minds of the Amsterdam tourists in the coffeeshops.

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