Foreigners face being banned from Amsterdam’s cannabis coffee shops as part of wide-ranging plans to discourage organised crime and cut back on drugs tourism that have drawn mixed reactions from residents and business owners.
Backed by police and prosecutors, the city’s mayor, Femke Halsema, has tabled proposals allowing only Dutch residents to enter its 166 marijuana-selling coffee shops, with the measure likely to come into force sometime next year.
Government research showed 58% of foreign tourists who visit Amsterdam come mainly to consume the drug, Halsema said, while another study showed the city would support fewer than 70 coffee shops if only locals were served.
“Amsterdam is an international city and we wish to attract tourists – but for its richness, its beauty and its cultural institutions,” the mayor said, adding that the cannabis market was too big and had too many links to organised crime.
She said the city could remain “open, hospitable and tolerant”, but at the same time would make life more difficult for criminals and cut down on mass, low-budget tourism.
Cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands but possession of fewer than five grams (0.18 ounces) of the drug was decriminalised in 1976 under a “tolerance policy”. Production remains illegal but the coffee shops are allowed to sell it.
The city “doesn’t necessarily just want people with a lot of money”, as reported by DutchNews. “We say come to Amsterdam for the museums, the food, for love or for friends – but not to skulk around, smoke dope and do drugs.”