Government officials in the Netherlands have been working to implement a system which would prohibit foreigners from visiting coffeeshops in the country and limit the number of members each coffeeshop could have. Last week, a number of coffeeshop owners in Amsterdam filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the rule change would led to discrimination.
The lawsuit was dismissed on Friday by a court in The Hague, the capital city of the Netherlands. The lawsuit was dismissed because the court believed that the proposed limitations are necessary to combat recent increases in crime associated with people who come to the Netherlands specifically to use cannabis and hash.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte is hoping to implement to new Weed Pass system in order to discourage travelers who are coming to the country only to access drugs.
Now that the lawsuit is dismissed, the Weed Pass plan is set to go into effect next Tuesday. This will be a “soft launch,” with only a few provinces being impacted. The law will be put into place for the rest of the country in January 2013. Amsterdam, a popular tourist attraction, is in the part of the country that will ban foreigners from purchasing marijuana in 2013.
Despite the court’s ruling, many coffeeshop owners in the Netherlands are not willing to go down without a fight. Michael Veling, a coffeeshop owner and spokesman for the Cannabis Retailers Association (CRA) has explained that the owners will appeal the decision, but an appeal can only be filed after enforcement of the law starts. In addition, Mr. Veling and his fellow shop owners have decided that they will not comply with the new laws, and they understand the consequences that will go along with their actions.
He explained to the New York Times, “From May 1 my colleagues in the south will disobey, and we expect to be arrested.”
The political landscape in the Netherlands is currently a complicated one– this past week Prime Minister Rutte’s government collapsed, but he will remain in place as a caretaker until the September elections. In order to gain support, Rutte has had to join forces with two smaller political parties, both of which oppose the Weed Pass system. Veling saw a great amount of potential in this situation, explaining that he is optimistic that both the Greens Party and the D66 Party will be able to convince Rutte into dropping the Weed Pass system altogether.