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The possibly last-ever Cannabis Cup runs this November. Hope to see some of you there.

A long-smoldering debate over the Netherlands' tolerance toward public marijuana use is heating up, with the Dutch government announcing last week that it will start banning tourists from pot-selling "coffee shops" by the end of the year.

"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.

While marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, it has been sold for decades in designated cafés and police make no arrests for possession of small amounts.

RELATED: Will Mendocino County become the Napa Valley of pot?

Under the new anti-drug rules, cannabis shops will be restricted to Dutch residents who sign up for a one-year membership, or "dope pass," London's Daily Mail reports.

The policy will roll out in the southern provinces of Limburg, Noord Brabant and Zeeland by the end of the year and the rest of the country next year, Reuters adds.

Amsterdam, home to about 220 coffee shops, is already in the process of closing some in its red light district. And some Dutch border towns including Maastricht and Terneuzen have already restricted the sale of marijuana to foreigners.

The new policy must still be approved by the country's supreme court, and "there will be many challenges in bringing the so-called pass system from a concept into a reality," says Jon Foster, an American who has owned Amsterdam's popular Grey Area coffee house since 1994.

But "drug tourism," which by some estimates draws up to 40% of Amsterdam's 16 million annual visitors, is already taking a hit.

"For the moment it's just bad for business, because everybody seems to think the law is already in effect as of this weekend," says Foster.

Most pot smokers "stay for three to ten days, eat at restaurants, go to museums and entertainment, and buy a little cannabis each day," he adds. " Many coffee shops will probably close because of the diminished tourism, but the effect will be much greater as the results of the ban trickle down to the hotel, restaurant, entertainment, and overall tourist industry."


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Today's update:

War on drugs a bust: commission

Decriminalize use of marijuana, other controlled substances, global inquiry says

The Associated Press

The global war on drugs has failed with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world, argues a new report to be released Thursday.

Compiled by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former heads of state, a former UN secretary-general and a business mogul, the report calls on governments to end the criminalization of marijuana and other controlled substances.

"Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately: that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem, and that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won," the report said.

The commission called for drug policies based on methodsInstead of punishing users who the report says "do no harm to others," the commission argues that governments should end criminalization of drug use, experiment with legal models that would undermine organized crime syndicates and offer health and treatment services for drug-users in need empirically proven to reduce crime, lead to better health and promote economic and social development.

The commission is especially critical of the United States, which its members say must lead changing its anti-drug policies from being guided by anti-crime approaches to ones rooted in health care and human rights.

Instead of punishing users who do no harm to others, governments should experiment with legal models that would undermine organized crime syndicates and offer health and treatment services for drug-users, the report says. Associated Press"We hope this country (the U.S.) at least starts to think there are alternatives," former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria told The Associated Press by phone. "We don't see the U.S. evolving in a way that is compatible with our (countries') long-term interests."

In the U.S., the office of White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said the report was misguided.

"Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated," Office of National Drug Control Policy spokesman Rafael Lemaitre said. "Making drugs more available — as this report suggests — will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe."

That office cites statistics showing declines in U.S. drug use compared to 30 years ago, along with a more recent 46 per cent drop in current cocaine use among young adults over the last five years.

The report cited UN estimates that opiate use increased 34.5 per cent worldwide and cocaine 27 per cent from 1998 to 2008, while the use of cannabis, or marijuana, was up 8.5 per cent.

The 19 members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy include:

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil (chair).

Louise Arbour, president of the International Crisis Group, Canada.

Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general.

César Gaviria, former president of Colombia.

George P. Schultz, cabinet member under U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.

Paul Volcker, former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman.

Carlos Fuentes, author.

Mario Vargas Llosa, author.

Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico.

Richard Branson, U.K. business mogul.

George Papandreou, prime minister of Greece.


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There's been an upswell of right wing politics in Holland for a few years now, Geert Wilders being one such figure. It's based largely on anti-immigration and anti-Islamicist shite but I think it's connected to a push toward fighting crime, a cause and effect type of thing.

Obviously there's more to it than that but there's my dumbed-down view

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