Cannabis entrepreneurs in Amsterdam feel "ignored" by Mayor Halsema
Several entrepreneurs in the Amsterdam cannabis industry said they feel ignored by Mayor Femke Halsema. They said they were surprised by Halsema’s announcement on Monday saying that she, along with the local leadership of the police and prosecution service, will stick with their plan to ban foreign tourists from coffee shops to prevent drug nuisance in the city center.
The officials completely ignored a white paper with alternative proposals put forward by their industry, Amsterdam cannabis purveyors Barney's, Best Friends, and Sensi Seeds wrote in a joint message to the mayor on Tuesday. Moreover, they sent a letter with alternative proposals to tackle the problem at the end of March, for which they have also received a response.
A spokesperson for Halsema said that their documents were received in good order. "We need some time to assess it, and will of course include the proposals in the debate about it. The entrepreneurs received an acknowledgment of receipt on March 29. We thanked them very much and indicated that we would carefully study the note and come up with a response."
The entrepreneurs do not understand why the officials are sticking to their position, because "research shows that this measure will lead to nuisance and a larger illegal market.” They came up with eight alternative proposals in their plan, including a trial allowing the coffeeshops to use a delivery service to counteract illegal providers, and an extension of the pilot to move coffeeshops to other locations.
In January last year, the officials announced the6 would eventually only allow residents of the Netherlands in the coffeeshops, in an attempt to combat drug tourism. There were still many questions from the full city council about the so-called residency mandate. Many parties feared an increase in illegal street trade by denying tourists access to coffeeshops.
After a number of additional investigations and discussions with the coffeeshop sector, the government officials stated that they will maintain their position that the residency rule is the best remedy for combating drug nuisance in the city center. A sales ban to tourists is seen as "a necessary intervention to cool the cannabis market in a first step towards regulation.”
The proposal and possible alternatives are still being discussed with the city council. The proposed alternatives from the cannabis businesses will therefore be included in that debate, according to Halsema's spokesperson.
Reporting by ANP