Dutch embassy fires back at Washington on Amsterdam pot rules
The Dutch embassy in Washington DC went to extreme, witty lengths last month to put straight a misconception it says city hall there has created about marijuana use in Amsterdam.
The embassy issued a news release that links to an infographic that lays out a comparison between the two cities. The infographic is best described as cynical and sarcastic.
What prompted it is a statement last week by Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser that the District will not become “like Amsterdam,” as though being “like Amsterdam” would be a bad thing. The mayor was discussing “initiative 71” that became law on February 26, legalizing marijuana in Washington, D.C. under certain circumstances. The Dutch embassy said the statements and the fact that “City Hall even refers to Amsterdam in their official Q&A” were reason to give the people of Washington, D.C. an educated view of how D.C. compares to Amsterdam.
Its release answered three questions, the first one about the differences between Washington, D.C., and Dutch law on the possession of marijuana? “In Washington, D.C., under initiative 71 it is legal for any person over 21 to possess marijuana weighing 2 oz. or less, grow no more than 6 cannabis plants (<3 being mature) per person or no more than 12 plants (<6 mature) per house or rental unit.
“(Whereas) in the Netherlands, it is illegal to possess (and grow, prepare, process, sell, deliver, distribute and transport) marijuana. However, the Dutch police and public prosecutors have designated the following cases (for persons 18 years or older) as a low-enforcement priority: Possession up to 5 grams (0.176 oz.) of marijuana; growing of a maximum of 5 cannabis plants for personal consumption in a single household.”
The second question regarded “any differences between how each handles the selling of marijuana?” The embassy laid out that because of Congressional interference, D.C. can’t enact any regulatory framework for the sale or taxation of marijuana. So the sale of marijuana is illegal. However, it is permitted to give (without remuneration) less than 1 oz. to another person over 21. “In the Netherlands, the prohibition on the sale of marijuana will not be enforced by the police only if it is sold in a licensed coffee shop to persons 18 or older and the following criteria are met: no more than 5 grams of marijuana can be bought per person per day; the total supply of a coffee shop can be no more than 500 grams (17.6 oz.) at any given time; no alcohol can be served in coffee shops; minors are not allowed inside coffee shops; it is forbidden to advertise marijuana or other drugs; no nuisance is tolerated in/around coffee shops. The sale of marijuana in any other circumstance will be prosecuted.”
To its third question “can anyone traveling to the Netherlands consume marijuana in a coffee shop”, the embassy responded with an emphatic “no”. “Since 2013 the sale of marijuana in coffee shops is only permitted to residents of the Netherlands aged 18 years or older. The primary reason behind this new law was the nuisance of drug tourism in the provinces bordering Germany and Belgium. However, local governments have the authority to designate a level of priority to the enforcement of this law. As a consequence, in the provinces bordering Germany and Belgium there is a higher enforcement priority than in a few cities, like Amsterdam and Rotterdam,” it explained.
The embassy then mocked the entire issue with a rhetorical “So the Dutch consume larger quantities of marijuana than Americans, right?”