- Category: News-wietpas
- Created on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 17:41
- Written by Amsterdam Herald
The disclosure by under-secretary for justice Fred Teeven is the first sign that The Hague is prepared to take a more flexible line on the introduction of the ‘wietpas’ law, which takes effect across the country from January 1.
Amsterdam’s mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, has been a long-standing critic of the policy, which requires coffeeshops to become private members’ clubs which are only open to Dutch residents.
The wietpas was introduced in the three southernmost provinces, including cities such as Eindhoven and Maastricht, on May 1. Coffeeshop owners and local residents have reported a sharp fall in the number of coffeeshop visitors, but there is also anecdotal evidence of a rise in illegal street dealing.
Teeven told local TV station AT5 that Amsterdam would not be allowed to resist the wietpas law altogether, but he was prepared to work with local government on issues such as how many coffeeshops should remain open, how much space they should take up and how far away they should be from the nearest school.
He also made clear that the centre-right Liberal (VVD) party was determined to cut down the number of coffeeshops in Amsterdam as part of a deliberate strategy to end so-called ‘drugs tourism’.
According to the most recent figures from last year the capital has 222 coffeeshops, around one-third of the total number in the Netherlands, of which 137 are in the city centre.
“The opium law is government policy,” said Teeven. “The wietpas is coming to Amsterdam, that’s the reality. But we want to discuss with the local authority the best way of introducing it.
“There is no need to have as many coffeeshops in Amsterdam as there are now. We want – and this is the aim of the cabinet – to stop this whole business of people coming to Amsterdam for the coffeeshops.
“That’s not the image I have of a city that values its tourist industry.”
Amsterdam-based MP Boris van der Ham, of the left-liberal D66 party, told the TV station the wietpas was causing problems in the areas where it was already in force.
D66 is one of a number of parties which have pledged to scrap the wietpas if they join the government after next week’s Parliamentary election.
Van der Ham said: “What you shouldn’t do is introduce the wietpas the way they have in Maastricht, because it just creates more problems.
“When I hear Fred Teeven saying OK, we’re going to adapt it to the local situation, that’s a big step back from his original position, which I welcome. It’s a bit more realistic.”