Amsterdam attracts more than 3.5 million foreign tourists per year, many of whom are drawn to the coffee shop culture and promise of being able to easily and legally obtain marijuana. However, the coffee shop cannabis trade will soon come to an end, reports the Los Angeles Times. The Dutch government plans to stop drug tourism by forcing coffee shops to become private clubs that only sell to Dutch citizens that show proof of identification.
Banning sale of pot to foreigners ‘tourism suicide,’ say critics
Long known for its liberal policies on marijuana sale and use, The Netherlands has proven to be a popular travel destination for the young and curious. Once “soft drugs” were decriminalized in The Netherlands in the 1970s, coffee shops like Mellow Yellow began to pop up to help suppress the black market cannabis trade. Currently, there are about 750 coffee shops in the country, 220 of which are located in the red light districts of Amsterdam, the capital city.
According to the Daily Mail, the new Dutch law will limit each coffee shop to 1,500 members and require members to sign up for one-year “dope passes” if they wish to continue receiving marijuana.
The outcry from critics has been deafening, as it is anticipated that the anti-tourist marijuana law will cost The Netherlands millions of pounds annually in lost revenue. Moreover, there is concern that the law will push the drug trade underground again, as Dutch residents will likely take to selling marijuana to tourists at inflated rates.
Dutch authorities want to stop sale of illegal drugs
While the marijuana trade at Dutch coffee shops has been legal for some time, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice recognize that marijuana isn’t the only drug changing hands. By instituting the new law, which is backed by the far-right party of anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders, authorities hope to curtail the sale of illegal “hard drugs,” including GHB.
In a public statement, the ministry addressed the concern over lost revenue:
“We attract other types of tourists apart from drugs tourists.”
Anti-foreign marijuana law in place by year’s end
Currently, Dutch border towns like Maastricht and Terneuzen already restrict the sale of marijuana. By the end of the year, the new policy will go into effect for the southern provinces of Limburg, Noord Brabant and Zeeland. Next year, the ban will blanket all of The Netherlands.
Coffee shop culture in Amsterdam (Warning: Adult language, drug references)
Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1392364/Holland-bans-foreigners-cannabis-coffee-shops.html
Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice: http://bit.ly/l5SJNs
Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/la-trb-dutch-coffeeshops-drugs-20110601,0,588802.story
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