From January 1 tourists will be banned from cannabis-selling coffee shops in southern Netherlands to spare locals from drug related anti-social behaviour amongst tourists.
Following a consultation period the Dutch justice ministry announced the plan last week, despite some politicians believing the move would be ‘tourism suicide’.
Under the new policy licenced pot shops will be become private clubs where they will be limited to 2,000 Dutch residents, who must be older than 18 and carry a co-called ‘dope card’.
In September 2010 the centre-right government of Prime Minister first announced the idea of a cannabis card, and frequent Dutch visitors will be required to hold these to access the country’s 670 licenced coffee shops.
Charlotte Menten, the justice ministry spokeswoman said, “the measure will come into force for the (southern) provinces of Limburg, North-Brabant and Zeeland, the provinces most affected by drug tourism, on January 1”.
January 2013 will see these measures come into force in the rest of the country, including Amsterdam.
The aim of the policy is to cut down on late night disturbances and the number of drug pushers catering to the millions of tourists who travel to the Netherlands for its relaxed marijuana laws.
In Amsterdam there are around 220 coffee shops, which have become popular spots for tourists in the city.
However by banning foreign tourists from cafes there are fears that Dutch residents could sell pot to visitors at inflated prices.
The European Court of Justice despite receiving complaints that banning foreigners was prejudiced supported the decision, saying that it was justified “by the objective of combating drug tourism and the accompanying public nuisance”.
Coffee shops were introduced as useful weapons in the 1970’s to combat and control the use of drugs.
This allowed people from the street to come in and order their favourite brand of marijuana rather than spending their money on the black market.
Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh