AMSTERDAM — The US states of Colorado and Washington voted last year to legalize marijuana and are moving forward toward implementing legalization. Activists in several states are lining up to try to do the same next year, and an even bigger push will happen in 2016.
With public opinion polls now consistently showing support for pot legalization at or above 50%, it appears that nearly a century of marijuana prohibition in the US is coming to an end.
Exactly how it comes to an end and what will replace it are increasingly important questions as we move from dreaming of legalization to actually making it happen. The Netherlands, which for decades now has allowed open marijuana consumption and sales at its famous coffee shops, provides some salutary lessons — if reformers, state officials, and politicians are willing to heed them.
To be clear, the Dutch have not legalized marijuana. The marijuana laws remain on the books, but are essentially overridden by the Dutch policy of “pragmatic tolerance,” at least as far as possession and regulated sales are concerned. Cultivation is a different matter, and that has proven the Achilles Heel of Dutch pot policy. Holland’s failure to allow for a system of legal supply for the coffee shops leaves shop owners to deal with illegal marijuana su. . . . . READ MORE
MAASTRICHT, NETHERLANDS — The trial of the owners and staff of three cannabis cafes in the southern Netherlands city of Maastricht began Wednesday, charged with selling marijuana to foreigners in a case both sides of a heated debate in this border city hope will clarify the legality of a clampdown on the city’s coffee shops.
Maastricht is using new national legislation banning coffee shops from selling cannabis and marijuana to people who don’t live in the Netherlands as a way of clamping down on what the local mayor says was a nuisance caused by hundreds of thousands of drug tourists driving into the picturesque heart of the city to stock up on weed.
The cafe owners and staff being prosecuted were arrested last month after serving foreign customers as a way of testing the legality of the new rules. A second group of owners is due in court later this month and verdicts are expected in mid-July.
Prosecutors asked judges to fine the seven suspects up to 5,000 euros (more than $6,500) and give them community service orders and short suspended prison sentences.
In an interview Tuesday in his ornate office in Maastricht’s old City Hall, Mayor Onno Hoes defended the crackdown on coffee shops as an effective way of reining in proble. . . . . READ MORE