I was in Amsterdam yesterday and was told the gist of this by a well informed source. Everything he said is as described in the extract below, taken today from the Netherlands Government's website.
My source also said, but this is not confirmed, that an individual would only be able to register with a single coffee shop, preventing both socialising, and the ability to exercise choice as to where you would like to smoke at any given time of day.
A few years ago, they stopped you being able to buy alcohol in a coffee shop, which also prevented mixed groups of people who wanted to both drink and smoke from socialising in the same place.
My source also asserted that the new measures would push drugs back onto the streets, where sales would be uncontrolled, organized by local criminal gangs with power struggles likely to cause injury and even death.
Not everyone who visits Amsterdam and other Dutch cities goes there to smoke. It's a wonderful place that you can enjoy in so many different ways. But all visitors will be effected by this, since the safe streets and canals that they enjoy walking along late into the night will not feel or be so safe any more.
I've been visiting The Netherlands for over forty years and I've always loved the people and the country for their practical, pragmatic, and progressive attitude to life. I'm saddened by this move, but I hope that sense will prevail. Please support the opposition to these changes. If I find a focal point for that, I will append it here.
There's some good, independent commentary here:
This links to a translation of the Wikipedia Weitpas page, currently only available in the Dutch language.
Rules on coffee shops to be toughened up
- coffee shops will become private clubs, with a maximum of 2,000 members;
- membership will be recorded in a membership list;
- the coffee shop will provide members with a membership card;
- only residents of the Netherlands aged 18 years or older will be eligible for membership;
- no coffee shop may be located within 350 metres of a school;
- from now on cannabis with a THC content of 15% or more will be classified as a hard drug.
Membership lists for coffeee shops
- the applicant member must be older than 18 years of age and resident of the Netherlands. He has to prove that he fulfills those two criteria by producing a valid identification document and an extract from the Municipal Personal Records Database. The extract must be more recent than 4 weeks;
- the membership must be longer than one year;
- those who are not members may not enter the coffee shop;
- the maximum amount of members one coffees hop can have is 2000 .
Membership card for coffee shops
Membership lists and membership card to be introduced gradually
- the amendment of the toleration criteria (as specified in the Opium Act Instructions) will come into effect on 1 January 2012;
- the new rules will come into effect in the following provinces on 1 May 2012: Limburg, North Brabant and Zeeland (with the exception of the rule on the maximum number of members);
- municipalities in other provinces may also choose to introduce the new system as of this date;
- as of 1 January 2013 all rules, including the maximum number of members, will apply throughout the Netherlands.
Informing drug tourists
- information on the new rules in 4 languages (Dutch, English, French and German);
- information on drug addiction, with details of addiction care in a range of European languages;
- information for municipalities introducing the system. (For instance on communication tools (including leaflets) that municipalities can utilize. This part of the site is only accessible for municipalities.