The Dutch government has tried to implement a Weed Pass program which would ban foreigners from visiting coffee shops and would also make the coffee shops “members only” for Dutch citizens. Under the Weed Pass, there would be a limit to the number of members each coffee shop could have. Coffee shop owners in the city of Haarlem are fighting back– all 16 coffee shops have refused to implement the pass program.
The Haarlem coffee shop owners, referring to themselves as THC, have announced that they, “have decided not to comply with the new criteria for tolerated coffee shops, like registering Dutch citizens as cannabis users, and discriminating against all non-Dutch coffee shop visitors.”
THC conducted a poll of 700 coffee shop patrons, and the results have led THC to believe that the program would lead them to go out of business. 63% of those patrons polled said that they would rather buy marijuana on the black market than register under the new Weed Pass program. 21.7% said that they would grow their own marijuana instead of registering. If those interviewed stuck to their claims, coffee shops in Haarlem would lose almost 90% of their business.
Initially, the program was meant to begin in January 2012, but has now been pushed back to May, and is meant to go nationwide throughout the next year. Haarlem coffee shop owners are not the only ones who are opposed to the restrictions of the Weed Pass. Officials in Amsterdam have also be trying to work with the government in order to find a compromise that won’t shut effectively down their businesses.