On Sunday, countless pro-pot supporters assembled in Amsterdam to celebrate 'cannabis culture' in the Netherlands, currently under danger by government steps to ban sales to foreigners, said an organiser.
Up to 4,000 people attended the fourth annual "Cannabis Liberation Day", said Joep Oomen, adding it was held this year to protest the introduction of the so-called "wietpas", or cannabis card.
Advertisement"Today's festival, the largest in the Netherlands to celebrate cannabis culture, is specifically held in protest of the Dutch government's introduction of the cannabis card," Oomen told AFP, adding "this year it's make-or-break for coffee shops in the Netherlands".
Dutch national television showed images of visitors, some dressed in reggae colours and others smoking a joint, while perusing stalls selling cannabis paraphernalia including pipes, at Westerpark northwest of the city centre.
The new cannabis card law came into effect on May 1 in three southern Dutch provinces.
It effectively transforms coffee shops into private clubs as it requires around 80 cannabis cafes in the south to sell only to signed-up members who live in the country.
Its coverage widens nationwide to 590 other coffee shops in 2013, and is aimed at curbing drug tourism linked to disturbances such as late-night rabble rousing, traffic jams and illegal drug pushing.
Each shop is allowed to have just 2,000 members, who must be over 18 years old and permanent residents of the country.
Coffee shop owners in southern Netherlands have argued the ruling was already strangling business and increased illegal street sales of cannabis.
Officials however, including in the southern city of Maastricht -- which has 14 coffee shops -- claimed success by saying there had already been a significant drop in the number of drug-related disturbances.
Although cannabis is technically illegal, the Netherlands decriminalised the possession of less than five grammes (0.18 ounces) of the substance in 1976 under a so-called "tolerance" policy.
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