Just before 6pm Amsterdam time, hundreds of people gathered in lines to purchase cannabis, before the immediate closure of coffeeshops. Many stood on the street disappointed, after not being allowed inside. Street dealers were immediately spotted, handing out their details on homemade flyers. Check out the video below.
A petition was started immediately, with concerned citizens and medicinal users of cannabis fearing the loss of access to marijuana used for pain relief by many. Within hours, thousands of people signed the petition to allow coffeeshops to sell their products on a take-away basis, as restaurants were still permitted to do under the current regulations.
After creating a lot of emotion and panic buying around the matter, the Dutch government announced that the proposed measures will be allowed.
At 7pm, on March 16th 2020, Dutch marijuana dispensaries, aka "Coffeeshops" were permitted to re-open, under the condition of allowing a maximum of one customer to enter the shop at a time. Cannabis Coffeeshops are allowed to provide customers with food and drinks, as long as they do not put them on a table.
The sudden closure of Dutch coffeeshops, caused by the COVID-19 social distancing regulations, showed how quickly a black market could form, creating social unrest, and a thriving unregulated market. Luckily, the Dutch cabinet moved very swiftly allowing this exception, and hopefully reducing the potential economical losses and patient distress.
The twenty-four hours between announcing cannabis coffeeshop closures and allowing re-opening created a lot of commotion and fear, but we applaud officials for making the best decision to reduce social unrest and potential illegal activity.
With the Corona Virus, it's hard to tell what the future brings but we hope that the international consensus of governments will continue to realize the importance of cannabis to potentially billions of people around the world. It is the government's duty to allow the various pipelines to remain open, affording medical marijuana access to all who need it.