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Amsterdam wants to ban coffee shops for foreign tourists

Mayor Famke Halsema wants to deny foreign tourists access to the coffee shops in Amsterdam. This should make the cannabis market in the Dutch capital smaller and more local again.

Halsema sent her proposals for a new coffee shop policy to the members of the city council on Friday. It aims for a smaller market with less demand, less supply and fewer ramifications towards non-tolerated hard drugs.

3 million “weed tourists”

With 166 coffee shops, Amsterdam accounts for almost 30 percent of all coffee shops in the Netherlands. With a number of proposals, Halsema says he wants to reduce criminal influences and bring the relationships between residents and visitors more into balance.

The proposed introduction of the “resident criterion”, which already applies elsewhere in the Netherlands, is particularly striking. Foreign tourists will then not have access to coffee shops. Every year, approximately 3 million, mainly young, tourists from all over the world visit the Amsterdam coffee shops, which are often the main reason for their arrival.

According to calculations by a consultancy, the local cannabis customers, from the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, can already be served with only 68 coffee shops, so almost a hundred fewer than the current number.

“Not an end in itself”

Halsema has been trying to give the famous Amsterdam Red Light District a new future for some time. “Keeping tourists out of the coffee shops should not be an end in itself, but a means of bringing the local cannabis market more into line with other parts of the country and lessening the appeal of Amsterdam as a stopping place for soft drug tourism,” she writes. “In this way, the market becomes more manageable, which is in the service of further regulation of the cannabis market.”

Another proposal is the introduction of a quality mark for coffee shops. The proposals will be discussed this month in the Amsterdam city council.

Read the full letter here.

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