Recently, thanks mostly to the VVD party, which has led a coalition government, the country pressed forward with laws
aimed at restricting the shops, in essence toning them down. Among other things the 'weed pass' law prevents them from selling marijuana with a THC content higher 15 percent and takes away their right to sell to foreigners; many from border countries like Germany and Belgium are coming over for quick trips solely for the dope.
Already in the south of the country the 'weed pass' law is in practice and will be coming to the rest of the country should the VVD party, currently leading the polls, head another coalition government or win a majority outright. There are other parties on the right who also support the law and were they to lead a minority government, would likely press ahead with the law, too.
Netherlands coffeeshops banning together
To prevent such a result, owners of the marijuana and hash cafes - called simply 'coffeeshops' (written as one word in Dutch) - are trying to get the traditionally apathetic dope smoker out of his or her living-room and down to a polling booth in the Sept. 12 election. They have collectively put up a website at vote2smoke.nl
where, among other things, Dutch voters can learn which parties favor the 'weed pass' and, more importantly, which ones intend to kill it and leave the coffeeshops alone.
Advice is not easily given in this case as there are some 20 political parties to choose from in the election. Basically the website is telling visitors to vote for the parties on the left, who favor the coffeeshops, and stay away from the parties on the right.
Marijuana and hashish coffeeshops
have been a part of the Netherlands since the 1970s and there are at least one of them in 105 of the 443 municipalities in the country. Coffee shops that do not sell dope in the country are called coffee cafes.