The number of complaints about drugs nuisance almost quadrupled to 619 in Maastricht in May, the first month that tourists have been banned from buying marijuana in the city’s cannabis cafes.
There were 101 arrests in the Limburg city on drugs charges last month, compared with an average of five before the ban was introduced, Nos television reported.
Despite the soaring number of complaints, mayor Onno Hoes told a news conference late on Thursday he is pleased with the introduction of the ban. There has been a sharp drop in the number of foreign tourists attempting to buy drugs in the city and the rise in street dealing is ‘manageable’, Hoes said.
In addition, the rise in complaints about drugs nuisance means locals themselves are becoming involved in tackling the problem, he said. Some 70% of the city’s coffee shop customers used to come from abroad.
The government closed cannabis cafes in southern parts of the country to non-residents on May 1. The rest of the Netherlands will follow next year. The aim of the new law is to stop drugs tourism, but opponents say it will lead to an increase in street dealing.
Marijuana is not legal in the Netherlands but police turn a blind eye to the possession of small amounts for personal use.
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