Amsterdam Coffee Shops Fight Gov’t Policy

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Last year, I heard whispers about the Dutch government’s plans to ban foreigners from coffee shops, thereby restricting access to Dutch citizens with memberships known as “weed passes.” Months later, those dreadful snippets of hearsay turned out to be true. Fret not – the Dutch got bollocks. Café owners ain’t taking this lying down. Lawyers acting on their behalf are attempting to derail government policy before it takes full effect. And rightly so. Coffee shops were the number one reason I chose to visit Amsterdam. See, I just had to confirm whether all those fantastic rumours I’d been hearing were true. Tales of weed menus and prostitutes in display windows peaked my curiosity no end. Let’s just say my life was never quite the same after a trip to The Magic Mushroom Gallery…however, the coffee shops proved to be fantastic places where one could relax, unwind, and toke in peace without fear of harrasment by authorities. The level of professionalism and customer service was second to none. Needless to say, I was completely bowled over by the experience, not to mention the varieties of salad on the menu. ..

            Holland’s civilized approach to psychoactives is light years ahead of many other countries, including North America. But now that forward thinking, gloriously liberal reputation is in danger of being greatly diminished. These restrictions will not improve health and safety, as the Dutch government claim. In fact, it may do the very opposite. According to Lucy Miller at http://news.nuggetry.com:

Many coffeeshops in Amsterdam rely on tourists to keep their businesses alive, and would likely have to shut their doors should the Weed Pass program take effect in the city.  Studies completed in response to the introduction of the Weed Pass program indicate that it will lead to an increase of black market drug deals and an increase of crime, which is why the Netherlands’ drug tolerance policy was initially put into place in the 1970s.  

            So the Anti-Fun Brigade is not simply satisfied with screwing up responsible drug culture, it seems they’re hellbent on destroying the economy and pushing the Netherlands back into the Dark Ages. Much like a hare-brained idiot’s pistol going off under a pillow, this moronicism will ultimately come back to haunt them. How ironic then, that the Dutch government collapsed last weekend over failure to agree on a budget plan that would have introduced austerity measures.

            History textbooks clearly demonstrate that escapism increases during times of recession, so it makes more sense to maintain safe outlets for peeps of every nationality to get high, not ban them. The Metro stated, “The move comes into force in the south of the country May 1 and is scheduled to roll out nationwide on Jan. 1, 2013.” That being said, there’s still time for the opposition to gain momentum and for sub-culture aficionados to experience the unique joys of coffee shops before exclusionist policies take hold. Looks like it’s high time for another visit to Amsterdam folks!

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author

 

 

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4 responses »

  1. This would be a hell of a shame, but I must admit I see where they’re coming from. My wife and I visited Amsterdam a few years ago and we partook of the greenery once or twice (a day). The coffeeshops were surreal – havens of chillaxing tourists from all over the world, congregating peacefully and chatting amicably. We hung out and wrote in our journals and watched as the locals walked and biked on by, drinking in the atmosphere, happy as clams. We saw such cool stuff – a cube van full of bicycles, Brazillians doing some sort of dancing martial arts on the street, Japanese tourists taking pictures of eachother smoking and giving the peace sign.. all goodnatured stuff.

    Then it was Saturday. The front desk attendant at our hotel advised us the front door would be locked “before the craziness”. We didn’t ask him to clarify that statement but we saw for ourselves soon enough. Tourists from neighbouring countries converged in droves on all the streets surrounding Dam Square. DROVES. We could barely walk there we so many hollering, cavorting, mindlessly meandering partygoers wandering about. It was a little intimidating so we vacated and retreated somewhere quiet for the rest of the night.

    Visiting this romantic storybook city was wonderful and made me feel like a little kid in a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, but that Saturday night was pretty bleak. I really must empathize with the locals who have to put up with that every week. On any given day we’d see mothers strolling with their children right past coffeeshops with acrid smoke billowing from the doors, oblivious like it ain’t no thang, but Saturdays were another story entirely.

    It would be a hell of a shame for the coffeeshops to suffer, though. Maybe that’s what brings the tourists in, and surely their visits are as profitable as they are chaotic, but I can certainly see how it would be exhausting for the general populace.

    • Wow…your description takes me right back to Dam Square. You are a natural born writer bruv! Tbh, the only time I witnessed swarming of that intensity was in the Red Light District on a Friday night…LOL – figures! But I see your points. There’s always a drawback in any locale that’s a hotspot for tourism, whether it be ecological or sociological. For the most part, the majority of tourists I saw were behaving responsibly, so it’s unfortunate that some rabble rousers should spoil things for the rest of us. If these new regulations are passed, Amsterdam will be less fun for future visitors, who will be denied the unique experiences that coffee shops have to offer. And that would be a crying shame >

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