Here’s the introduction and we do suggest you link through and persevere till the end. It’s a very informative and instructive piece about Dutch thinking
Cannabis in Holland, once the only country in the world where you could enjoy it legally, has taken some hits lately. It was already underway in 2012, when authorities raided and shut down the High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, where it had been held since 1988. Two years later, the government refused to grant the American media and event company a permit to stage the Cup, effectively banning it from doing business in Dutch cannabis country.
The dream of a society where stoners could sit in coffee shops and openly smoke ganja was being challenged. Regulations imposed by a government increasingly uncomfortable with the global spotlight on the Dutch cannabis industry began to have their own strange and often unintended impact.
Since 2010, the Dutch government has been trying to come to terms with several realities: Its legitimate cannabis market, which still draws tourists, is actually a gray market that relies on loopholes in the law; countries around the world, including in Europe, are moving closer to legalizing marijuana; and the black market remains an ever present threat.
A concerted effort to rezone the nation’s coffee shop trade, particularly in Amsterdam, has forced the closing of beloved shops like Mellow Yellow (for being too close to a private hairdressing trade school). Still, the Dutch are not shy about cannabis tourism, as it draws as many as 25% of the tourists visiting the country. Last year, Amsterdam had five million more tourists than it did in 2012.
The “Weed-pass” law, also introduced in 2012, which was intended to limit the tourist trade linked to ganja, has been widely abandoned in most of the country, except for border towns like Maastricht. Those passes, essentially “licenses” given to locals who wanted to toke, hoped to limit the number of tourists who flock to the country for its legal cannabis and coffee shop culture. The net effect of these policies has concentrated the cannabis trade even more in and around Amsterdam.
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