Many medical marijuana entrepreneurs look to Amsterdam with a tinge of jealousy. Ok, that’s a gross understatement: They are extremely jealous. The European city is the global mecca of marijuana, home to some of the most relaxed pot policies in the world. This is the city, after all, where the average Joe can walk into a, ahem, cafe, order a cup of java and light up a joint, choosing the type of pot they want from a menu like they would a glass of wine.
That’s a far cry from Colorado and California, which have the largest medical marijuana industries in the United States but still enforce numerous regulations and bar the drug for recreational use.
The funny thing about all of this, however, is that while the U.S. is becoming more lenient in this regard, Amsterdam seems to be going in the opposite direction by enforcing stricter rules on marijuana.
The country will essentially bar tourists from entering Amsterdam’s popular “coffee” shops that let patrons smoke weed, with officials saying the move will help combat crime, reduce drug-centered tourism and promote a healthier lifestyle, according to this article. Even residents will have to jump through more hoops, as they’ll be required to sign up for one-year memberships at a particular cafe. These changes come on the heels of similar moves in Amsterdam in recent years to clamp down on marijuana, which have contributed to the rapid decline in the number of coffee shops selling weed.
So, you ask, what the heck are you getting at? When one of the world’s most lenient cities in regards to marijuana use starts tightening its laws on the drug, it will be harder to convince people here at home to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes or otherwise. While the medicinal side to marijuana is – and should be – a completely separate issue from the recreational side, I have no doubt that opponents of medical marijuana will use what’s happening in Amsterdam to further their argument that pot is a danger to society. Many of these people fear that allowing the medical use of marijuana will make it easier for recreational users to obtain pot, which will then make it more prevalent in our society, which will then contribute to increased crime and cause additional health concerns, etc.
The fear is that this could represent another hurdle for medical marijuana proponents here at home, to say nothing of what it means for people pushing for the full legalization of weed.
Chris Walsh is the editor of Medical Marijuana Business Daily