Thursday, April 19, 2012

Doobie do? Marijuana Businesses Fight Back Against the New Laws in Holland

Well, nobody expected them to go down without a puff. Er, I mean fight.

Yesterday, a coalition of marijuana-based businesses went to court in Holland to fight the implementation of new access laws. Under these statutes, only those who are members of marijuana clubs will be able to light up legally. Each club will be allowed no more than 2000 members, to restrict access to Holland's visitors, many of whom stream across the borders for quick highs. The new rules go into effect on May 1 in the south of the country and on January 1, 2013 in the rest of the Netherlands (including Amsterdam).

Coffee shops, which have sold marijuana and hashish for decades, are making the case that the new regulations will lead to more petty crime, as marijuana dealing will head to the streets. They're also arguing that its wrong to allow residents their choice os stimulants, but not legal visitors.

Even if the government wins the case, many are skeptical as to whether much will change in Holland. Maastricht coffee shop owners have vowed to flout the law. They'll fight it in court again, should one of them be sanctioned for selling weed to non-members.

And Eberhard van der Laan, the Mayor of Amsterdam, is trying to work out a way for the coffee shops of his city to continue offering stimulants legally. He's trying to make the case that the law was implemented to stop marijuana tourism in the border cities (an issue with neighboring nations where the weed was often illegally resold) and therefor shouldn't apply to Amsterdam. He undoubtedly knows that the ban will cripple Amsterdam's tourism: by most estimates, a third of the visitors who come to the city try hashish or marijuana at some point during their stay.

For more on these legal maneuverings, click here.

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