Amsterdam plans to ban tourists who use cannabis from its cafes

The Dutch are fed up with stoned tourists flocking to their coffee shops known for offering over-the-counter cannabis, so Amsterdam’s green mayor Femke Halsema is trying to temporarily ban non-residents from coffee shops in his city.

With the end of the anti-Covid-19 measures, the red-light district, the historic center of the capital and a tourist hotspot especially known for its easy access to prostitution and soft drugs, has resumed activity, to the chagrin of some locals. residents., and part of the municipality.

Fight crime?

Of the 166 coffee shops in the Dutch capital, 100 serve only tourists, according to a recent study. However, the mayor, local police and prosecutors say banning cafes for tourists is now a necessary measure to reduce the size of the soft drug sector, combat the inconvenience of tourists, and combat hard drug crimes.

In April, a political proposal presented to Femke Halsema listed coffee houses as a “back door to crime”, pointing out that while the possession and personal consumption of cannabis is legal in the Netherlands, its commercial cultivation is not. coffee shops have to buy products from illegal chains.

The i-criterium resident exemption law allows municipalities to decide whether to grant tourists access to coffee shops, but the mayor of Amsterdam has yet to secure the support of the city council, which met on Thursday 29 October. However, he was supported by the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).

Els Iping, a former Labor Party (PvdA) politician and member of the Stop de Gekte (“stop the madness”) residents group, believes that “merchants come for tourists and tourists come for coffee shops” and that we must end this cycle.

Ineffective measure

According to Bond van Cannabis Detaillisten, just under half of tourists come to Amsterdam for cannabis, and 24% of them would still come even if it were banned.

The “weed pass” policy intended for residents, already in place in other territories, especially in the border city of Maastricht, is nevertheless far from clear success in the fight against drugs. Dr. Ton Nabben, a forensic scientist and drug researcher, notes that nearly a decade after it was implemented, it was found that the measure only had a “water bed” effect, so the proposal only moved elsewhere.

“You will have a situation when you arrive at Schiphol [l’aéroport d’Amsterdam] and the dealers will ask you if you want to buy something because you can’t go to the cafe,” he explains.

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