The Netherlands: Dutch to Ban Foreigners from Coffee Shops!

The Netherlands: The Dutch cabinet announced Friday that it is moving ahead with plans to effectively bar foreigners from the country's famous cannabis coffee shops. It plans to turn the coffee shops into private clubs limited to 1,500 members, who can only join if they are over 18 and can prove they are Dutch citizens or legal residents, according to Dutch News.

The Netherlands: Dutch to Ban Foreigners from Coffee Shops!

While the government must win approval from the Dutch Supreme Court for its ban on foreigners, it hopes to accomplish as much by limiting membership in the clubs. Proprietors will be forced to choose between local customers and foreign visitors. The Netherlands has for more than 30 years tolerated the possession and sale of small amounts of marijuana, turning the country into a mecca for marijuana aficionados from around the world.

But the conservative coalition government tilted even further to the right after the last election by the addition of the far-right anti-immigrant party of politician Geert Wilders, is now tightening the screws in a bid to reduce drug tourism and what it says is crime and nuisance associated with the coffee shops. "In order to tackle the nuisance and criminality associated with coffee shops and drug trafficking, the open-door policy of coffee shops will end," the Dutch health and justice ministers wrote in a letter to the country's parliament on Friday.

But officials in Amsterdam, home to 220 of the country's 500 or so cannabis cafes, said the proposals to turn the cafes into provide clubs would actually increase criminality and reduce public safety. The city council there opposes the move. "We are concerned about the problems that will arise from large-scale street dealing," said a spokesman for Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan. "There are also health concerns, because with street dealing we cannot monitor the quality of the soft drugs or the age of the buyers," he said.

The plan will be rolled out in the border provinces of Limburg, Noord Brabant and Zeeland by the end of the year and the rest of the country next year, government officials said.

USA: Three Medical Marijuana Bills Filed in Congress

A bipartisan group of US representatives filed three medical marijuana-related bills in Congress Wednesday. The three bills aim at protecting medical marijuana patients, caregivers, and providers from ongoing federal arrests, prosecutions, and harassment.

The trio of bills is a clear signal to the Obama administration that disenchantment with its approach to medical marijuana is growing in Congress.

While the Obama Justice Department declared in its famous 2009 memo that it would not go after medical marijuana operations in compliance with state laws in states where it is legal, federal prosecutors and the DEA have continued to arrest and prosecute medical marijuana providers.

In the past few month, US attorneys in states implementing or contemplating regulated and licensed medical marijuana dispensaries have sent threatening letters to state officials warning that marijuana is still illegal under federal law and that even state employees could be at risk of arrest. Meanwhile, the DEA has been sitting on a nine-year-old petition to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.

USA: Washington Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Dies There will be no medical marijuana dispensary legislation coming out of Olympia this year. State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle), the chief legislative backer of the effort, announced Tuesday that she was giving up for this session and called it the greatest disappointment of her career at the state house.

Earlier this year, Kohl-Welles successfully shepherded a dispensary and patient registry bill through the legislature, only to see it gutted by Gov. Chris Gregoire's (D) veto pen. Gregoire vetoed dispensary and patient registry provisions in the bill after federal prosecutors in the state warned that state employees involved in registering or licensing dispensaries could face federal prosecution.

USA: Arizona Governor Moves to Block Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) announced at a Tuesday afternoon press conference that she has instructed the state attorney general to file a federal lawsuit to seek clarification of the legality of the state's medical marijuana law.

That means that the dispensary licensing portion of the program will most likely be put on hold pending a "declaratory judgment" sought by the governor. Under the Arizona law, most patients would have to rely on a system of licensed dispensaries to obtain their medicine. They or their caregivers cannot grow their own unless they live more than 25 miles from a dispensary.

Brought to you by The Greenish Warbler

June 1st 2011

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