European Cannabis News Roundup
The Netherlands Is No Longer A Pothead’s Paradise
If you ask anyone to name some of the best places in the world to travel to for pot, almost everyone would be able to tell you to go to the Netherlands.
However, things are changing and if you’re thinking of heading to this side of the continent just to score weed as a tourist, you may want to rethink your travel plans. Many cities in the Netherlands have enacted new regulations to limit public consumption of cannabis.
Last week, The Hague officially became the first Dutch city to ban cannabis use in the city center, as well as major shopping areas and the central train station. A representative of the Hague’s mayor divulged to The Guardian that the decision was the result of several complaints from both visitors and residents about “the strong smell of cannabis and the noise from its users.”
Several establishments in The Hague can expect to receive flyers warning about the ban, as well as implications and fines should these regulations be violated. Hotels, coffee shops, and homeless shelters are among said establishments. Anyone found smoking pot in public areas will be given warnings by the police, and after 2 weeks fines will be implemented.
Even though it’s a well-known fact that Netherlands coffee shops sell cannabis, much has changed in the recent years as an increasing number of municipalities have called for efforts limiting how and where cannabis can be consumed.
In 2012, the Dutch government proposed an initiative that would restrict cannabis sales only to residents of the Netherlands. The plan, called the “Weed Pass”, has been forgotten. However, in Amsterdam, coffee shops can still sell cannabis to people as long as they aren’t near schools. Today, Amsterdam and Rotterdam ban cannabis use around schools and playgrounds. However, in Rotterdam, there are efforts ongoing to limit the number of coffee shops found around the city.
In Andalucia, Europe’s Gateway For Cannabis, Trafficking Is Seen As A Solution To Unemployment
In a little town called La Linea de la Concepcion, found north of Gibraltar and on the southern tip of Spain, drug trafficking of cannabis is a common practice.
In fact, it is here where 70% of the cannabis distributed in Europe comes in; transported directly from Morocco which is just 30km away by sea.
In a video report by France24 produced by Patrick Lovett, Rebecca Martin, and James Vasina, viewers get a closer look into the reality of Europe’s gateway for cannabis.
According to the video, the coast of La Linea de la Concepcion is always on high alert. Police officers monitor the coast every morning, looking for traffickers on speedboats who are transporting drugs illegally. When a member of the Spanish police force was interviewed on video, he said that the traffickers’ boats are too fast to catch that they need to be on “permanent alert.”
In 2017, the police were able to seize 113 tons of cannabis, which was thrice the amount of what was seized in 2016. Patrol on the coast is no longer enough to keep up with the traffickers; they need to resort to helicopters and boats too. Tourists on the beach are treated to boat and helicopter chases akin to what is seen on “Hollywood film,” says the reporters. They have also had to resort to placing physical barriers on the coast as well as strategically placed cameras so that traffickers on boats can’t reach the shore.
Authorities believe that the fishermen of Atunara port may be helping the traffickers. According to Juan Morente, the only fisherman willing to be interviewed, drug trafficking does happen – or at least it did in the past. While filming the video, the reporters also witnessed 10 men being questioned by cops on the street, individuals who were suspected of being involved in drug trafficking. A resident spoke to the camera and said that while trafficking is common, they are helped by children who get the packets and then disappear on the back streets.
According to Jose Juan Franco, mayor of La Linea de la Concepcion, the drug trafficking problem is an economic one. With 34% of the population unemployed, people see drug trafficking as the only option.
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