29 May New Amsterdam. A Way Forward?

As someone who first visted Amsterdam in 1973 and is a veteran of the Vondel Park all-summer festivals, I say perhaps there could be a positive out of the clampdown on coffee shops.

It’s always seemed absurd to me and a recipe for trouble that while possession and sale in coffee shops is permitted, the supply chain remains illegal. It negates one of the greatest benefits of an end to prohibition – taking the market away from criminals.

I am unconvinced that the wietpas will stick anyway. The Dutch are famous for their tolerance and for an ability to look the other way when it suits them for practical reasons. My brother in law, a Dutchman, spoke the word the other day ” gedogen”, which has no precise English translation – and is not pronounced as simply as it looks!

Consider though, as I understand it, coffee shops are to become clubs, restricted to 1500 members each. This is similar to the present arrangements in Spain and to the clubs proposal put forward by Alun Buffry. If it was to operate across Europe, it is a method of regulation that I would support and which would avoid the obvious problems that the Dutch towns bordering Germany have suffered. If the members were allowed to grow for their own use it could become a solution that would suit everyone – except organised crime.

On this basis it may work. The alternative is that the trade is driven underground and then, inevitably, crime and violence will increase, prices will rise, quality will suffer and Amsterdam, in particular, will descend into mayhem. I don’t believe that the Dutch people will allow that to happen.

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