Amsterdam’s cannabis cafes are often intertwined with serious crime and play a serious role in money laundering, the capital’s mayor Femke Halsema has told councillors, ahead of Wednesday’s debate on refusing entry to tourists.
Closing coffee shops which are involved in criminal activities is both complicated and time consuming, the mayor is quoted as saying by the Parool. But by banning the sale of soft drugs to tourists, the cannabis market will shrink and become less interesting for organised crime.
This makes a ban on access for tourists is an unavoidable, temporary move in efforts to get the soft drugs market under control, the mayor told councillors, referring to police report De narcostand van Nederland, which was published earlier this year.
Halsema said in January last year that she wanted to ban non residents from the city’s cannabis cafes, but the previous and current coalition are both highly sceptical. In particular, they say the move will boost street dealing.
Research indicates that just 66 of the capital’s 166 coffee shops are needed to support the local population’s cannabis consumption.
Joachim Helms, from the local coffee shop association, told the Parool he was ‘shocked’ that Halsema was using the police report to justify her claims. ‘There maybe some rotten apples around, but the mayor has enough powers to withdraw their licence,’ he said. ‘Coffee shops are too often seen as glorified coke dealers.’
The city council is due to debate introducing a ban on non-residents using the coffee shops – which is the situation in the rest of the country – on Wednesday.
According to the Parool, Halsema has pledged not to press ahead with the plan without council support, because of the ‘major social and economic impact on the city’.
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