Amsterdam plans to limit drug tourism, may allow only residents to buy cannabis from 'coffee shops'
The Netherlands allows registered coffee shops - one-third of whom are based in Amsterdam - to legally sell marijuana to their customers.
The Netherlands, Amsterdam, World, marijuana, coffee shops, drug tourism, cannabis, tourists / January 12, 2021 / 04:15 PM IST
The civic authorities in Amsterdam are planning to enact measures that would curtail "drug tourism" in the Dutch capital. City mayor Femke Halsema wrote a letter to city councillors on the possibility to regulate the sale of cannabis at the "coffee shops", reports said on Tuesday.
The Netherlands allows registered coffee shops - one-third of whom are based in Amsterdam - to legally sell marijuana to their customers. While the move was aimed at enabling Dutch nationals to use soft drugs instead of hard narcotic substances, it has ended up drawing opium lovers from across Europe.
Halsema's initiative to ban foreign nationals from purchasing marijuana at the coffee shops drew support from the police and public prosecutor's office.
In his letter sent to the local councillors, the mayor pointed out that the foreign tourists who turn up only for drugs consumption "cause inconvenience to the residents."
Halsema, before his election in 2018, had promised to reduce overcrowding in the city's red-light district caused due to drug tourism. His proposal, if supported by the majority of local councillors, would need ratification from the Dutch Parliament before coming into effect.
Joachim Helms, the spokesperson for the Association of Cannabis Retailers in Amsterdam, expressed apprehension over the civic authority's plan. He told reporters that the move may not reduce foreign tourists, but only give impetus to illegal narcotic trade.
"Banning the tourists from the coffee shops now will have a major negative side-effect. The people who still want to smoke cannabis will go to buy it on the streets from street dealers," Euronews reported Helms as saying.
A recent study by the Dutch office for Research, Information, and Statistics claimed that Amsterdam may lose 44% of British tourists, 50% of German visitors, and 45% of French tourists if foreign tourists are not allowed to buy cannabis from the coffee shops.
Halsema, while speaking to Dutch television NOS, said the loss of tourists due to regulation of drug sale should not be considered as an issue of concern. Amsterdam should welcome tourists who are interested in the "richness and beauty of cultural institutions", rather than those who are here to "walk around drunk and drugged."