On May 1, 2012, Dutch people in the city of Maastricht took a stand against a marijuana criminalization law, passed on Monday. The law bans everyone, except the Dutch, from purchasing marijuana in the Netherlands. The law is an attack against the European Union's commitment to free and fair trading among the euro zone.
For around a year now, people have been wondering whether or not the marijuana ban would take place. I myself thought it was just a scam to scare people and that it would never happen: I was so wrong. Since September 2011, in the southern states of the Netherlands, only Dutch, Belgian, and German citizens were allowed to visit the famous coffee shops. Now, Belgians and Germans are not allowed to go either.
The ban was implemented in order to get rid of drug tourism. I will say though, that during the time I spent living near Maastricht, I did not see drug tourism to be nearly as extreme as they try to picture it to be now. It is true there were people coming in and out of the coffee shops every day just to get a dose, but I think this is better than no tourism at all. Holland may offer many touristic attractions, but, lets be honest here, drugs and prostitution are the most acclaimed ones. This doesn't mean that banning is the answer — all banning will do will lower the amount of tourists that visit the country every year.
Even though the Netherlands did not criminalize marijuana, it is surprising to know that it has one of the lowest numbers of cannabis consumers in Europe. Only 5.6% of adults used cannabis in the past year, compared to the 6.7% average in Europe. According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) the highest percentages of weed consumerism are in Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic and France. Also, the Netherlands has a very low crime rate compared to many other European states.
Ironic isn't it? How is it possible that a country that allows "immoral" behavior, is one of the safest places in Europe. Well, for starters, the fact that marijuana [and prostitution] is legalized, means that the amount of drug dealing is considerably reduced, which at the same time, reduces the amount of drug-crime related. This makes the Netherlands a nice and secure place to live.
What are the possible scenarios if marijuana is banned all over the Netherlands? In my opinion, everything that the legalization made better, will immediately be gone. This means we can expect, higher drug dealing and crime rates not only in the Netherlands, but in Belgium and Germany too. Also, I would expect a decrease in tourism, due to the lack of freedom to buy cannabis, and maybe also a decrease of income. I, and I imagine many others, hope the Dutch government reconsiders this law; its reprecussions will affect not only the Netherlands but many other countries as well. Netherlands.