Amsterdam plans to ban cannabis tourists from its cafes

Amsterdam plans to ban ‘cannabis tourists’ from its cafes |

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

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

fighting crime?

According to a recent study, 100 of the 166 cafés in the Dutch capital cater exclusively to the needs of tourists. However, the mayor, local police and prosecutors assert that banning tourist coffee shops is now a necessary measure to reduce the size of the soft drug sector, tackle tourist harassment and tackle hard drug crime.

In April, a policy proposal tabled by Femke Halsema pointed to coffeeshops as a “backdoor to crime”, pointing out that while possession and personal use of cannabis is tolerated in the Netherlands, its commercial cultivation is not required, but coffeeshops are required to certify their supplies illegal networks.

The i-criterium Residents’ Exception Act lets municipalities decide whether or not to allow tourists access to coffee shops, but the mayor of Amsterdam has yet to win the approval of the city council, which met on Thursday 29 October. However, she received support from the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).

Els Iping, a former Labor Party (PvdA) politician involved in the residents’ group Stop de Gekte (“Stop the madness”), believes that “the traders come for the tourists and the tourists come for the cafes”. that we must end this cycle.

An ineffective measure

According to a report by Bond van Cannabis retailers, nearly half of tourists come to Amsterdam for cannabis, and 24% of them would still come if it were banned.

However, the “weed pass” policy already in place in other areas, notably in the border city of Maastricht, reserved for residents, is far from having a clear success in the fight against drugs. dr Ton Nabben, a drug criminologist and researcher, points out that almost a decade after its application, it was discovered that this measure had only a “waterbed effect,” so supply has only shifted elsewhere.

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