News of: Saturday, November 20 2010,
Amsterdam has protested against the introduction of the new 'Weed Pass', an idea of the recently elected new government.
The new government plans to introduce the Weed Pass for coffeeshops (where marihuana is sold). Coffeeshops are to become exclusive clubs, for which a membership is required. Without the Pass you can no longer buy marihuana in the coffeeshops.
Only residents of the Netherlands can apply for a Weed Pass.
This means tourists will no longer be able to buy cannabis in Amsterdam (or elsewhere in Holland).
Of the 4.5 million visitors that Amsterdam attracts each year, a million say that they visit a coffeeshop to buy cannabis. The phenomenon of the coffeeshops is definitely one of the important tourist attractions in Amsterdam.
Coffeeshops in the centre of Amsterdam make most of their money from tourists, and it is predicted that many coffeshops will have to close.
Experts also predict the cannabis trade will move to the streets again, just like before the introduction of the coffeeshops.
Nuisance and crime related to cannabis trade was the very reason of the introduction of the coffeeshop, back in the 1970's.
The Mayor of Amsterdam, Mr Eberhard van der Laan, has protested with the government in The Hague about the measure (that is yet to be implemented). The Mayor says the Weed Pass is a good solution for towns that are on the border with Belgium and Germany, as coffeeshops there attract a lot of visitors from the neighbouring countries.
However, Amsterdam should be exempted from the new Pass, according to Van der Laan, as in Amsterdam it will create problems, rather than solve them.
Politicians in the Amsterdam Council, from left to right, have also protested against the pass.
Apart from new crime in the streets, they fear a disastrous effect on tourism to Amsterdam.
The Minister of Justice (of the VVD, the Dutch Conservative Party) has already said that no exception will be made for Amsterdam.