The mayor of Amsterdam has rejected a plea to ban foreign tourists from using cannabis cafes, following the implementation of new drug rules.
The mayor said that foreign tourists would be allowed to use the city’s famous cannabis cafes. The decision came after months of arguments over new drug laws. The government of the Netherlands had said that it was up to the local authorities to decide whether foreign tourists were to be banned or not.
Taking his stance on the issue, Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said that banning the sale of the drug to foreigners would encourage more crime in the city. It is believed that each year, about 1.5 million tourists visit Amsterdam to partake of cannabis at its cafes and parlours.
Van der Laan said, ‘The 1.5 million tourists will not say ‘then no more marijuana’, they will swarm all over the city looking for drugs. This would lead to more robberies, quarrels about fake drugs, and no control of the quality of drugs on the market – everything we have worked towards would be lost to misery.’
Tourism operators have warmly welcomed the decision, as the nation relies heavily on tourism, and cannabis users make up about a third of the total visitors to the city. Even though such users help local tourism, the government was worried that it would increase drug use and encourage drug dealers to procure drugs that could be sold abroad.
Under new laws that were introduced by the previous conservative-led government, a ban on foreigners using cannabis was due to be enforced in Amsterdam by the end of this year.
It is believed that there are about 700 coffee shops selling cannabis in the Netherlands.