News of: Wednesday, May 02 2012,

'Weed pass' in effect in 3 provinces of the Netherlands

As of May 1, the so-called Weed Pass (Dutch: Wietpas) is in effect in three provinces, in the South of the Netherlands.

The Weed Pass means that coffeeshops (where marihuana is sold) are now member-only clubs. Only people who live in the Netherlands can become a member. Members only have to live in the country, the Dutch nationality is not required.
This means that tourists are excluded.

The 3 provinces where the Weed Pass is now required are Zeeland, Brabant and Limburg. They are along the border with Belgium and Germany.

The Pass is widely criticized, as most people fear that drugs trade will move to the streets again, out of sight the authorities. Coffeeshops for soft drugs were introduced in the Netherlands in the 1970's, in order to separate the soft drugs trade from trade in hard drugs.

Since then, coffeeshops have become extremely popular with tourists (who mainly go to Amsterdam), and people in neighbouring countries (Germany and Belgium). Border towns have experienced problems with the many visitors that were attracted by the coffeeshops (noise, traffic, street trade).

The Weed Pass will be introduced in the rest of the country (including Amsterdam) as of January 1, 2013.

In Amsterdam the situation is somewhat different. There are a few hundred coffeeshops in the Dutch capital, many of which depend on tourists for their income. A large portion (possibly a quarter, but this is not exactly known) of all tourists going to Amsterdam, also visit a coffeeshop. Tourism entrepreneurs fear that Amsterdam becomes less popular with tourists. Others say that the quality of tourism will go up because of the Weed Pass.