Netherlands post-elections: the future of coffee-shops

Many eyes were watching the legislative elections of 12 September in the Netherlands with regard to the future of the coffee-shop industry of that country. But the outcome, officially confirmed yesterday, delivers a substantive equality in the distribution of the 150 seats in the Second Chamber (Tweede Kamer) between the parties for and against the maintenance of the so-called “weed-pass”, introduced in the three southern provinces of the Netherlands: Noord-Brabant, Limburg and Zeeland.

Parties in favor of maintaining the pass or a complete abolition of the coffee-shop got 77 seats
. The parties opposed to such measure got 73. None of them, however has the numbers to command a majority. To have answers to the question we have to wait for the formation of the government through negotiations which could take months, according to observers.

The politicians involved in the talks should soon receive a report commissioned to assess the effects of the weed-pass in the southern part of the country. The research is being conducted by the Bonger Institute
at the University of Amsterdam and the Research and Documentation Centre of the Ministry of Justice.

In an interview for Radio Radicale, Marc Josemans and Jo Smeets described the first negative effects of the weed-pass, already visible both in social and economic terms, in Maastricht and in the provinces affected by the prohibitionist law. For this reason we hope that the research conducted on behalf of the government will take these effects in to account when drawing their conclusions.

The future of the Dutch drug policy is revolving primarily around the position of the VVD
(Volkspartij Vrijheid voor en Democratie, member of the liberal party dell'ELDR) led by Mark Rutte, who is in favour of the weed-pass and has 41 seats, and the PvdA (Partij van de Arbeid) Labour Party led by Diederik Samsom, which in recent months has spoken out against the pass. It has obtained 38 seats. The question is whether the Labour Party will keep their word or if, as feared by Mr. Josemans and Mr. Smeets, they will “thank” their constituents/cannabis-users with an agreement that will extend the introduction of the weed-pass nation-wide.

Laura Harth