The decision to ban foreigners not resident in the Netherlands from the country’s cannabis cafes has led to an ‘explosion’ in drugs-related crime in the south of the country, the AD reports on Saturday.
The government’s decision to turn the cafes into members’ only clubs in the southern provinces last May led to a sharp rise in street dealing, the paper says. It bases its claim on police and city council figures.
In Maastricht, at the forefront of efforts to reduce drugs tourism, the number of drugs crimes has doubled over the past year while in Roermond they are up three-fold with at least 60 active street dealers, the AD says.
People living in border areas report that drugs dealing has moved to other parts of their neighbourhoods and into residential areas.
Nevertheless, Maastricht is holding firm to the policy of banning non-residents from so-called coffee shops and has threatened several of the city’s 13 cannabis outlets with a three-month closure because tourists were allowed inside.
Currently, coffee shops are licensed to sell small amounts of marijuana and cannabis for personal use. And while possession is not legal, the police turn an official blind eye to people with less than five grammes.
Officials in Amsterdam and many other towns have already said they will not implement the ban on tourists and will instead take advantage of the legal provision for a ‘tailor-made’ approach to the marijuana trade.