Tourists Banned from Dutch Marijuana Cafes

Soft Secrets
15 Nov 2011

Impending Dutch ban on foreigners in 'coffeeshops'

SOURCE: AUTHOR: Timothy Stenovec Last call: If you're not Dutch, you only have about six weeks to legally get high in some parts of the Netherlands. As of January 1, 2012, a new policy will go into effect, banning all foreigners from marijuana-selling "coffee shops" in three of the country's southern provinces, USA Today reports. In 2013, the ban will expand to the remaining nine provinces, which, of course, includes Amsterdam, a city popular with foreigners because of its lax drug policies. Licensed coffee shops will become "member-only" establishments, and only citizens of the Netherlands who are over 18 will be allowed to join, according to an article from AFP-Relaxnews in the New York Daily News. The new policy was put into place in an effort to cut down on traffic congestion and disorder at night from "drug tourists." "The visitors put a lot of pressure on the city when they come here and make it very busy on our narrow streets," Marc Josemans, the president of the Society of United Coffeeshops told CNN last month. "So the city said that something had to be done about the traffic and nuisance."

According to CNN, Josemans owns a coffee shop in Maastricht, a city on the Belgian border that last month banned all foreigners except for Germans and Belgians from entering the city's 13 coffee shops. But officials in Amsterdam are worried about the effect that this will have on tourism. 23 percent of visitors to Amsterdam visit coffee shops while they're in the city, CNN reported in June, citing a figure from the Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board. And some argue that this policy will encourage the illegal sale of drugs. "If tourists are denied access to coffeeshops, illegal sales and drug dealing on the streets of Amsterdam will increase," said a statement from I Amsterdam, a consortium that includes the city and the Amsterdam Tourism and Convention Board (ATCB). "The City of Amsterdam does not want to facilitate soft drug use by tourists, but to help those who wish to use drugs to do so as responsibly as possible." According to DutchNews.NL, the number of visitors to coffee shops in Maastricht was down 16% after the ban took effect last month. The Telegraph reports that this could account for an annual loss of $41 million, the equivalent of 345 full-time jobs.

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