Coffeeshop membership - minister gives way a little

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Dutch Justice and Security Minister Ivo Opstelten says municipalities that are not ready to implement the so-called 'weed pass' system in January 2012 may postpone its introduction.

However, he added that postponing it for one whole year - as the city of Maastricht has proposed - is unacceptable. The minister made his comments during a debate in parliament on Tuesday.

Next year, coffeeshops in the provinces of Zeeland, North Brabant and Limburg are due to become member-only clubs and membership will be open to inhabitants of the Netherlands only. The government plans call for the country's 'coffeeshops' - where small amounts of marijuana and hashish may be sold - to be allowed to issue a maximum of 1,500 weed passes.

The plans are intended to reduce problems involving foreigners buying soft drugs - sometimes in large amounts, which is not covered by the policy of softdrug 'toleration' - from coffeeshops in Dutch border towns. Supporters of the plan believe the weed pass will stop foreigners from crossing the border and causing trouble in the Netherlands but opponents say dealers will simply take to the streets to supply the foreign markets.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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