Wietpas

Since the end of the last year, we have had many queries from friends all over the world on possible restriction on our business. Sorry, but I have to confess that I have not been studying hard enough so that I can tell you exactly what’ s going on within the current Dutch government in relation to possible implementation of so called ‘Wietpas’. I will list some links from respectable organizations so that you can keep yourselves up-to-date if you want (If you are not familiar with the Dutch language, make use of googletranslate like I do). The following is to my best knowledge of what’s going on and what I think about it.

Various media first reported late last year that the current Dutch CENTRAL government planned to introduce so called ‘Wietpas (Weed pass)’. The media explained that, for example, you would need a pass to make a purchase in our shop and more importantly, in order to obtain this pass, you have to be a Dutch resident.

This means that people visiting Amsterdam from outside the country will not be able to come to our shops and many others to experience the unique culture.  This also naturally means that, any businesses in Holland which currently benefit from tourism (including hotels, souvenir shops, transports and the rest you name it), will suffer because of the potential significant decrease in number of people visiting the country.

In the past, the central governments have tried to restrict our business in different ways but none of the attempts have had significant impacts, not at least in Amsterdam. However this time, we were more concerned because the government managed reach wider audience with tougher messages via media (although, we, as the business owners have never heard from them directly so far). We started hearing from our friends across the globe asking what’ s going on while some Dutch media even reported that the government said that, if a pilot scheme in the south of Holland does not work well, they would shut down all the businesses across the country altogether.

So I was rather nervous when I first heard the news in December last year. I was thinking about my next possible careers including bar business combined with laundry and karaoke facilities. I also decided to join BCD, a lobby organization for our business community to obtain more direct and up-to-date information as they have been in close contact with Den Haag on various matters which concern our business community. I also thought that joining them might give me a better opportunity to have my voice heard rather than jumping up and down on facebook or on this blog page.

Meanwhile, the media started reporting that, quite a few LOCAL governments in Holland including those in the south started showing their oppositions. It is interesting that the local governments in the south of Holland have been amongst the first ones to voice their concerns over the implementation of the pass system because, as far as I understand, the system has been designed particularly to ‘protect’ these regions from those who come from outside Holland to make purchase and ‘disturb’ the local community. The local authorities in the area seem to see many other aspects to the thriving businesses including the positive ones.

In Amsterdam, the local government has not had a final say yet but as many parties including criminology specialists believe that the situation in Amsterdam is completely different as majority of tourists who come to enjoy the custom and culture are not interested in invading the city with big ambition of drug cmuggling. They come for the unique experience for a short period before returning to their respective country only with sweet memories.

It is my understanding that the CENTRAL government can push through their policy regardless of the stances of the LOCAL governments. Therefore numerous reports on the local governments’ s rejections to the concept of the pass system makes me optimistic but only cautiously. The central government has failed to deliver a more clear guidline by the end of the last month as they promised. Meanwhile, there have been discussions over various implications including legal ones as well as the financial ones that the implementation may have.

It therefore seems to me that, even if the current Dutch central government is to impose any sort of restriction, it will probably be long time ahead and meanwhile, we will carry on with our business as usual. Don’t worry that we may not exist anymore. Please come and visit us, have a good time and enjoy freedom with self-discipline and responsibility.

The current prime minister is reported to have said something like that he is fed up with coffeeshops which is a symbol of nostalgia for the 60′ s. I think the complete opposite. In principle, having some liscenced businesses is a forward-looking pragmatic solution for various problems which modern societies face and if you look at the developments in United States and other regions, it is possible to say that the Dutch system can be one of the more progressive ones and it is certainly not a retrospective yearning like the prime minister says . We now have an even stronger sense of mission to run our business to prove that. I hope you share the same thought and help us remain a part of great heritage of Amsterdam.

Objective information
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http://www.rnw.nl/english/info/about-radio-netherlands-worldwide

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Press review Friday 17 December 2010 (Second part of the article!):
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