Dutch coffee shops, which been under increasing scrutiny by the government — are not in danger of being shut down, despite rumors to the contrary.
While the last 10 years have seen the number of dispensaries reduced by 50 percent, party officials say there won’t be a wide-scale closure of any sorts.
Partisan Dutch politics has three major parties; Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and Christian Unity. Social Democrats tend to be more lenient towards working with coffee shop owners with a more pragmatic attitude. Both Christian parties are opposed to the coffee shop system, and point to its “problems by association” as the real peril caused by the shops.
[img via CDog420 on flickr]Perry
Responding to complaints of a perceived growing drug problem in the area, Michel Marijnen, mayor of Roosendaal, recently tried to close his city’s four marijuana coffee shops.
The southern Dutch border city sees thousands of tourists a week from neighboring European countries, many of whom come for the express purpose of elicit drug use. Officials have said its starting to push local laws to a breaking point, where reform has to be considered.
The London Times online edition reports:
Marijnen is to address a summit for dozens of mayors from towns across the Netherlands today on how to tackle the problems surrounding coffee shops.
Some of the proposed changes are limiting purchase amounts in stores and other regulatory measures, but business owners and customers are worried it could be the beginning of the end and that in the end the regulations will only make the problem worse.
If they cut back to 2 grammes, then people will come back every day, while with 5 grammes they come every week. If they come back every day it will be a big problem for the town.
The most common mental image created when the word Amsterdam is mentioned relates to Red Light District mayhem and puffing on the most kind of all buds. While you can still do both of the above, it’s not quite as free spiritied and happy-go-lucky as one is lead to believe.
In the Netherlands, Christian conservatives have taken a government majority. Once in power, they decided the looseness that the Dutch were known for was going to be eradicated. Beginning in 2004, signs began to show that things were changing. The government did this by making new coffee shop licenses almost impossible to procure and when a shop closed, they wouldn’t renew any licenses involved with the establishment.
Coffee shop numbers in the Netherlands have gone from 1,500 nationwide to around 737 currently. At the rate coffee shops are disappearing (over 380 a year), it’ll take under 3 years to completely wipe these businesses off Dutch land. Ferry Hansen, owner of Get A Life coffee shop, had this to say:
You have to think three times about everything you do. It’s getting worse every year. The government is trying to control more and more. If you follow the law, they can’t say anything, but in the long run, they’ll probably get what they want.
Just when you think things are improving at home, there’s a set-back abroad. Hopefully, the Netherlands will get the exact same liberal swing that happened to America during it’s mid-term elections.