Amsterdam Mayor, police want to ban foreign tourists from cannabis coffeeshops
Amsterdam wants to eventually ban foreign tourists from coffeeshops in the city. The Amsterdam collaboration of Mayor Femke Halsema, the district police and district office of the prosecution service have crafted a plan outlining their vision for the future of coffeeshops, with the prevention of tourists from entering them a key piece of the plan, according to a letter they sent to City Council on Friday.
Despite the city decreasing the number of coffeeshops from 283 to 166 over the past two decades, the demand for soft drugs is still increasing, mayor Femke Halsema said. Some coffeeshops saw their turnover increase by between 75 and 200 percent in that period. According to her, 'cannabis tourists' played a big role in this. "We have seen that many groups of young people come to Amsterdam to visit a coffeeshop," she wrote.
In the past, Amsterdam decided against using a residents-only criterion at coffeeshops, worrying that banning foreign tourists from the coffeeshops will only result in in increase in illegal street trade. But according to Halsema, research now showed that a large number of foreign tourists indicated they would no longer come to Amsterdam if they couldn't visit a coffeeshop.
So while banning foreign tourists from coffeeshops could still result in an increase in illegal drug trade, this trade could also decrease due to fewer tourists actually coming to the city. "The influx of tourists already resulted in a huge increase in the street trade in recent years, especially in fake dope," Halsema said. "If we want to do something about that, we should also have fewer potential customers."
The exact details of how foreign tourists will be kept out of coffeeshops, such as time frame and enforcement, still needs to be worked out. Halsema wanted to first find out what the city council - which is "traditionally" very divided on coffeeshop policy, according to the mayor - thought about the idea. "But I don't really see an alternative solution," she said.
The goal is to "reduce demand and make the supply smaller and more local and thus achieve a manageable and transparent cannabis market". In addition to a residents-only rule for coffeeshops, the city wants to start regulating the local cannabis market in phases. The first step will be to introduce a quality mark. Coffeeshops with a quality mark will be allowed to keep larger stocks of cannabis in-store, which means that couriers - popular targets for robberies - have to replenish the stock less often.
The mayor, police and prosecutor also want to prevent any monopolies from forming by limiting how many coffeeshops a chain can have.