Netherlands Lawmakers introduced a measure this year that would ban foreigners from purchasing marijuana from coffeeshops, and Amsterdam coffeeshop owners have fought back every step of the way. Last week, a group of owners went to court in order to attempt to stop the government’s plan to ban foreign visitors from their shops.
The owners and their lawyers oppose turning coffeeshops into members only clubs that are accessible only by Dutch residents. Members would have to register for a “Weed Pass” and only 2,000 members could be registered to each coffeeshop. Not only would this limit the potential clientele for coffeeshop owners, but it would also decrease the level of privacy and anonymity for coffeeshop patrons.
Lawyers for the shop owners believe that the measure is “clearly discriminatory.” In addition, one lawyers, IIonka Kamans, has argued that drug policy in the Netherlands gives citizens of the country, “the fundamental right to the stimulant of their choosing,” and that foreign visitors should be provided that same right.
Many coffeeshops in Amsterdam rely on tourists to keep their businesses alive, and would likely have to shut their doors should the Weed Pass program take effect in the city. Studies completed in response to the introduction of the Weed Pass program indicate that it will lead to an increase of black market drug deals and an increase of crime, which is why the Netherlands’ drug tolerance policy was initially put into place in the 1970s.