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Plan for register of coffeeshop users expected to be scrapped

The Dutch government is on the verge of scrapping plans to turn coffeeshops into private members’ clubs.

The Tweede Kamer coffeeshop in Amsterdam. Politicians are expected to include a watering down of the wietpas law in the coalition agreement.The move signals a watering down of the ‘wietpas’ law, which is designed to stop drugs tourism by restricting access to the cannabis cafes.

The changes follow widespread criticism of the proposal in the three southern provinces, where it was first introduced on May 1.

Since then police have reported a steep rise in illegal street dealing and local councillors have complained have lost the ability to monitor and control the trade in soft drugs.

Sources in The Hague have told AD that the two parties in talks to form the next government are planning a more flexible approach to the law.

At the moment the wietpas law restricts access to coffeeshops to registered members, who must live in the local area, with an upper limit of 2000.

Under the revised plan, coffeeshops would remain open to all comers but visitors would have to show proof of residence in the Netherlands to prevent foreign tourists from entering.

Critics say many coffeeshop visitors are uncomfortable with the idea of putting their names on a register and are instead choosing to buy anonymously from street dealers.

Scrapping the registration requirement would also leave Dutch residents free to go into any coffeeshop in the country rather than being restricted to their local outlet.

The next government is expected to be a coalition between the Liberal (VVD) party, which devised the wietpas law, and Labour (PvdA), which has consistently opposed it.

Senior Labour politicians, including the mayors of Amsterdam and The Hague, have said it will wipe out years of progress in socially deprived areas if the rules are enforced on January 1.