Foreigners banned from Maastricht coffee shops

Tourists and other foreigners will remain banned from coffee shops in Maastricht. New mayor Annemarie Penn-te Strake does not want to return to the previous situation, in which the city had many problems caused by drug tourists.

Mayor Penn-te Strake said this to the city council on Monday night, NU reports.

In 2012 Maastricht implemented the so-called resident criterion - only adults living in the Netherlands are allowed in the coffee shops. Since then the number of drug tourists and drug related problems in the downtown area has been "dramatically reduced", according to the new mayor. She wants to keep it this way.

The mayor did acknowledge that the policy has resulted in more drug runners at the edges of the city and a more aggressive street trade. According to her, that can be dealt with by a change in the Dutch soft drugs policy.

Penn-te Strake told the city council that the Dutch soft drugs policy is ineffective, but that there is a lack of courage in The Hague to acknowledge this fact. The hopes conceived in the 70's have not realized and the tolerance has a magnetic effect on foreigners. She also stated that coffee shops have turned into commercial organizations and that the trade in hard and soft drugs will happen together.

All this will not change as long as the cultivation of cannabis is forbidden, according to the mayor. "We need to find new forms", she said. "I am thinking, for example of cannabis social clubs. Those are clubs in which adults grow good cannabis in small quantities for recreational use." This would take criminals currently earning large amounts of money through large-scale cultivation and selling to coffee shops, off the map, Penn-te Strake believes.

The Maastricht mayor wants Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice to tend to the drug policies when the Netherlands is president of the European Union Next year.