The Netherlands Still a Great Place For Herb Lovers
Some time ago last year there was a lot of confusion about the laws on drugs in the Netherlands and whether tourists would still be allowed to smoke weed in Amsterdam. But in Amsterdam spring is rainy as never before, but tourists are again flooding the city to toke up, just like any previous spring in Amsterdam. Nothing changed.
Some people might not realize that last year the Dutch government had the bright idea to start banning foreigners from the Dutch cannabis café’s. Dutch citizens would have to register at a cannabis café to receive a so called ‘weed pass’. With this pass they would be allowed to buy up to 3 grams of cannabis daily, but foreigners would not be allowed to purchase cannabis at all.
The new law was put in effect exactly one year ago in the Southern parts of the Netherlands. The South of the Netherlands shares borders with both Germany and Belgium and is the place to go for people from these countries as well as from France to get their herbs. The law was supposed to be going in effect for the whole country but after it kept leading to many problems with street dealers, a rise of drug related crime, many protests by Dutch citizens, continues lobbying by authorities of various big cities and of course the fear of losing revenue of tourism, the newly elected government changed the plans in September last year.
Dutch cannabis smokers are not interested in being officially registered as cannabis users. This was the clear message that came out of several surveys and researches. A big percentage of the questioned cannabis café visitors said that they will find their cannabis elsewhere, meaning illegal dealers, or planning to grow their weed themselves, as the sale of cannabis seeds in the Netherlands is still legal.
Even though Amsterdam is a place where you can freely buy cannabis, magic truffles and other recreational herbs like salvia, cannabis in the Netherlands has never been completely legal. Since the 70’s the government allows the sale of cannabis to adults in registered cannabis café’s and has been having a policy of tolerance ever since. Cannabis café’s, of coffeeshops as the Dutch call them, are allowed to have up to 500 grams of cannabis in their establishment at a time, but on good days, some shops can sell even more than 10 kilos of weed and hash. This means that the cannabis has to be shipped in more than once each day. Another strange thing in the law is that professional cannabis cultivation or the cultivation of large quantities of cannabis is not allowed. It is allowed to have up to 5 plants growing in your garden but as soon as you use professional lights or any other professional methods, it becomes illegal. As a result of these politics the Dutch government busts about 6000 illegal plantations every year, from small closet growers to large scale operations with thousands of plants.
Some local city-governments have proposed to start growing weed for the community, but the only cannabis that is being grown legally at the moment is medical marijuana, produced by a few governmental companies. The government somehow has decided to keep this monopoly position, although there are some great Dutch cannabis seed producers that have had more than 20 years of experience producing top quality medical marijuana seeds. Besides the fact that it is almost impossible to get a recipe for medical cannabis in the Netherlands, the quality of the medical cannabis is pretty bad and most medical users end up in the coffeeshops again to purchase their cannabis or start growing their own. The biggest complain for many users of the governmental weed, next to the high prices and the bureaucratic procedures you have to go through to obtain some, is the fact that the marijuana is being sterilized with gamma radiation.
Maastricht, a city in the South of the Netherlands and a very popular place for tourists from Belgium, France and Germany, was one of the cities that got hit the most with the new law. Every year this city is being visited by more than a million drug tourists and the cannabis café’s in the city have been making a very nice profit for many years. At the moment it is still not allowed to sell cannabis to tourists in Maastricht and several court cases are lined up for the owners of coffeeshops that have been selling to tourists as a way of testing the legality of the new rules.
All in all it seems that the Dutch are not going to let this lovely green herb be taken away from them and. All adults over 18, local or foreign are still welcome in the cannabis café’s in Amsterdam and other cities in the Netherlands and with the summer finally kicking in, Amsterdam looks the same as any other year; a beautiful and happy place flooded by hazy tourists.