It's not news that the Netherlands has decided to limit legal marijuana consumption to residents, but man, a lot of us were hoping that wouldn't stick. Alas, Dutch court has ruled to uphold the law. Here's what this means for you, anyone who isn't Dutch: you can't fly to Amsterdam to get stoned in one of the city's legendary "coffee shops."
The decision means that coffee shops in the south must stop selling cannabis to foreign tourists by May 1, while Dutch and foreign residents will be eligible for a "weed pass" that allows them to purchase it legally. The plan is to be rolled out to other Dutch cities, including the popular tourist center of Amsterdam, by next year.
Sure, Amsterdam has other draws: gorgeous canals, Anne Frank's house, and a whole lot of Van Gogh. But there's no denying the effect legalized weed has on tourism. In fact, it's the smaller southern cities in the Netherlands who have pushed the law forward. As you might expect, the city of Amsterdam is not too thrilled about it.
Attorneys for the coffee shops (a euphemism for the cannabis cafes) argued that the law was contrary to national anti-discrimination laws: how can Dutch citizens and residents legally buy marijuana if visitors to the country cannot?
The court didn't really answer that. Instead, they mumbled something about drug-related crime.
The court ruled that the new law is legal because of the rise in criminality linked to the Dutch drug trade. But the decision is fiercely opposed by city officials in Amsterdam, where the cannabis cafes are a major tourism draw and where myriad coffee-shop owners have vowed to ignore the law once it comes into effect.
In addition to coffee shops flat-out ignoring the law, tourists could also simply ask a Dutch person to buy them weed. I'm not saying they should do that — just that it's a possibility, and that sometimes it's OK to find a way around a law that doesn't make sense.
Oh, and remember, while coffee shops will be restricted to Dutch residents and citizens, carrying and consuming marijuana will still be legal. So there's that.