Holland Extinguishing Pot Tourism

Marijuana Smoker in Amsterdam Coffee ShopA woman smokes marijuana in an Amsterdam coffee shop. Photo by Associated Press.

Holland Extinguishing Pot Tourism
Holland will prohibit foreign visitors to consume marijuana in its “coffeeshops”
El País: Adiós al turismo del porro
Isabel Ferrer reporting from The Hague December 15, 2011

Holland has hardened its rules governing the consumption of marijuana in “coffeeshops”. As of January 1, 2013, these businesses (there are some 650 in the country) will be converted into clubs for their Dutch members or good citizens with residence permits only. Tourists, who are a good part of the shops’ current clientele, will not be allowed to enter. In the three southern provinces, where many cities border Germany and Belgium, this order will come into force on May 1. Holland’s Ministry of Justice expects the restriction to cover the nation’s entire territory by 2013.

The stricter control of coffeeshops derives from an increase in the potency of cannabis made in Holland. Because of manipulation of the plant during its cultivation, typical Dutch cannabis is now more than 15% tetrahidrocannabiol (THC). This is its principal active agent; the higher the level, the greater the effect of marijuana consumption on the brain. Because practically all coffeeshops sell this variety, the government has decided to classify strong cannabis as a hard drug. “it is considered dangerous to the most vulnerable smokers: adolescents and young adults,” Ivo Opstelten, Minister of Justice, said in explanation of the measure.

Although Dutch clients can continue smoking marijuana without problems, they will have to register and show their corresponding cards upon use. Each establishment can have a maximum of 2000 members. Also, shops will not be allowed to sell drugs with THC content higher than 15%. The police will do regular inspections.

At the moment, any adult visitor of any nationality can consume marijuana in these establishments, whose strong presence in Amsterdam have made them a fixture on the Dutch capital’s postcards. But the city government would rather promote other types of tourism. It also wants to keep elementary and secondary students from coming into contact with the drug; for this reason, coffeeshops less than 350 meters from a school ((about half of all coffeeshops) will have to close by 2014.

The government is also trying to fight the exportation of Dutch-made marijuana, an unexpected problem. The Opiate Law penalizes the traffic, possession, and sale of more than 30 grams of marijuana, but it has not resolved this legal loophole: cultivation is penalized, but consumption isn’t. Modifying this law, however, is a large-scale undertaking the center-right government would rather not deal with at the moment.

The decriminalization of cannabis consumption (no more than five grams per person) dates to 1976. The model has been presented as a success ever since because it has separated the markets for light and heavy drugs and stymied the black market.

Explore posts in the same categories: Law, Translations

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