Amsterdam will not ban tourists from coffee shops, says mayor

Tourists can continue to use Amsterdam’s 220 cannabis cafes, even if they are not resident in the Netherlands, the Volkskrant quotes the capital’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan as saying on Thursday.

The new cabinet is pressing ahead with banning non-residents from the country’s cannabis cafes, but says enforcing the ban will be carried out together with local councils, taking local policy into account.
This means the city can take its own line, the Volkskrant says. At least 1.5 million of the city’s seven million visitors a year go to a coffee shop – the name for licenced cafes where small quantities of marijuana can be sold for personal use.
The outgoing cabinet introduced its new wietpas system in the south of the country in May and had planned to extend it nationwide in January 2013. The new coalition is dropping the registration system but still wants to keep out tourists.
But excluding tourists from Amsterdam’s coffee shops will ‘undo all the good work that has been done’ and lead to a return to street dealing, Van der Laan told the paper.
At the same time, Van der Laan has promised justice minister Ivo Opstelten to take a tough line on coffee shops which cause a public nuisance and to reduce marijuana use by youngsters.
‘Sales to minors, too strong marijuana, no advertising or public nuisance – we are going to keep a close eye on it all,’ Van der Laan says.
The mayor also backs the new government’s plans to set a maximum limit to the amount of THC – the active ingredient in marijuana. ‘Health is paramount. I have seen the damage it can do,’ Van der Laan told the paper.
No green light
However, a spokesman for the justice ministry told news agency ANP later on Thursday Van der Laan had not had permission from Opstelten to ignore the new rules and that the mayor has jumped to conclusions.
While the approach to each city would be tailor-made, it had not yet been decided how the new rules would be implemented, the spokesman said.

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