Thursday 23 September 2021

Blown off: Amsterdam will ban foreign tourists from coffeeshops in future

Foreign tourists will be banned from coffeeshops in Amsterdam in future, according to the Parool.

In a letter to the council, mayor Femke Halsema, the public prosecution service OM and the police have said that in the future they only want Dutch residents to have access to the shops to buy and smoke cannabis.

Efforts to reduce criminality linked with the industry in the past two decades have reduced the number of coffeeshops in Amsterdam from 283 to 166 now but the demand for dope has still increased, according to the letter.

So called cannabis tourists have contributed to this, says Halsema. Before the coronavirus outbreak, foreign tourists were visiting coffeeshops an estimated 1.5m times a month.

Halsema also points out that research suggests a large proportion of foreign tourists would not want to come to Amsterdam if they cannot go to a coffeeshop.

In recent months, calls have increased from politicians, businesses, tourist bodies and residents of the Dutch capital to enforce a national law which means only residents can buy from the coffeeshops. It was never enforced in Amsterdam because of concerns that it would drive the trade on to the street.

‘We are absolutely not heading for a cannabis-free Amsterdam because coffeeshops belong to the city,’ Halsema said, according to the Parool. ‘But there is a huge desire to change the tourism. Our freedom should not be a license for large groups of young people to throw up in the canals because they have smoked and drunk too much.’

The mayor also intends to limit the number of coffeeshops in any chain and regulate the supply with a new ‘quality mark’. Although coffeeshops fall under the mayor’s responsibilities, the new proposal will be discussed by Amsterdam council to draw up definitive plans, and there will also be a transition period before any ruling is enforced.

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