First consequences of new prohibitionist drug policies in the Netherlands

The manager of the coffee-shop "Easy going" where Marco Cappato showed up

On May 1st 2012, the “weed-pass” was introduced in Netherlands’ three southern provinces, Noord-Brabant, Limburg and Zeeland. As of 2013 the pass shall be obligatory all over the country. However, only two months into the new measure, the first results can already be gathered from the three “pioneering provinces”.

The measures’ goal was to allow only registered Dutchmen to buy weed, thus warding off foreign users, but initial “quick-scan” studies reveal that Dutch youngsters (aged between 18 and 24) and immigrants refuse to get registered. In the meantime this has allowed the (re)-birth of a vast network of illegal street trade. Drugs on the street are not only cheaper, but also no questions are posed on age and or nationality of the buyer. Most illegal dealers, often minors, are from Moroccan, Albanian, Hungarian, Romanian or Northern-French descent.

Since May 1st, the police in Limburg have arrested 386 people for the illegal dealing or buying of weed. According to the police most of the arrested come from different places across the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Most of them are in their twenties or thirties. 24 extra policemen for the fight against marijuana have temporarily reinforced the Limburg police force. “We will continue deploying them”, says a spokesman for the police. “The war against illegal weed trade is a priority in which we’ll continue to invest”.

Around Eindhoven about 30 arrests have been reported so far. Ten men reinforced the police corps over there. There are no concrete numbers available yet for the provinces of Zeeland and Noord-Brabant. 

At least 600 employees of coffee shops in Limburg, Noord-Brabant and Zeeland have lost their job since May 1st. They are condemned to long-term unemployment due to the bad connotation of working in a coffee shop. Maastricht has been hit the hardest: 450 people.

The entire city suffers from the lack of foreign tourists since the introduction of the weed-pass: Jo Smeets, spokesperson for the "Foundation for Advocacy of Coffeeshop Staff Netherlands", says: “Restaurants, but also clothes shops and other small businesses risk to go bankrupt. Many forget that the weed buyers, foreign and domestic, are wealthy people, not just passing by for the weed”.

Estimates say until May 1st 2012, around 4500 people were employed by coffee shops all over the Netherlands. Subsequently there is fear of mass layoffs when the measure becomes mandatory everywhere in the country in 2013.

On May 1st 2012 Marco Cappato performed a civil disobedience in Maastricht against the introduction of the weed-pass.

Laura Harth
Sources: - -