Travel enthusiasts who have not yet traveled to Amsterdam may well cross off smoking a joint in a Dutch cafe in Amsterdam from their bucket lists with the city doubling down on its intentions to prohibit outsiders from such establishments.
Amsterdam’s ecologist mayor Femke Halsema on Friday proposed banning tourists from the Dutch city’s famous cannabis “coffee shops".
A large part of the rising number of tourists visiting Amsterdam every year were coming merely to consume the drug and such “cannabis tourists" had become a nuisance, Halsema told NOS public television.
“Amsterdam is an international city and we wish to attract tourists, but we would like them to come for its richness, its beauty, and its cultural institutions," she said.
Cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but the possession of less than five grammes (0.18 ounces) of the substance was decriminalised in 1976 under a so-called “tolerance" policy.
While production of cannabis remains illegal, the so-called coffee shops are allowed to sell it.
In a letter to the city council, Halsema said she hopes to make Amsterdam less attractive as “a place of soft drugs tourism."
There are 570 of these coffee shops in the country, according to health ministry figures. Amsterdam is home to around 166, or about 30 percent of the total, according to the city’s own data.
Coffee shops were closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown, along with other non-essential shops in the Netherlands and they continue to be shut in line with the latest Covid-19 measures. However, the coffee shops have been able to sustain through delivery and takeout services.
According to a report in CNN, the topic of banning outsiders or non-Dutch customers from partaking of the country’s famed cofee shops - a major tourist attraction the world over - is not new. While different municipalities of the Netherlands have different rules about the sale and consumption of cannabis.
While Amsterdam has previously strongly defended its laws that permit outsiders to enter coffee shops in the region, others like Maastricht in the south of the country do not permit non-Dutch customers in their coffee shops.
(With inputs from AFP)