Amsterdam mayor calls coffeeshop ban for tourists 'inevitable'
Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema says that a coffeeshop ban for tourists is “inevitable.” Based on a police study, she believes many of the city’s coffeeshops are involved in criminal activity, Het Parool reports.
The recently-published report links soft drug suppliers to criminal activities such as money laundering, meeting places for criminals and fronts for trafficking harder drugs like cocaine. The mayor hopes to put a damper on such operations by banning the sale of marijuana to tourists, since only about 66 of the 166 coffeeshops in Amsterdam are needed to meet the demands of locals.
Critics of the plan say this ban could lead to something similar to what Halsema fears: a combination of illegal soft and hard drug markets selling to tourists anyway. The mayor responded, “I argue that we currently have more than a thousand street dealers in the city and that they target that group of young people for whom coffeeshops, alcohol and drugs are the main reasons for coming to Amsterdam.”
The municipality has plans to send out extra law enforcement to catch street dealers if the ban happens. However, the proposal has met with opposition from entrepreneurs.
“There may be bad apples in the industry, but the mayor has sufficient powers to revoke permits. Coffee shops are too often mistakenly seen as glorified coke dealers,” Joachim Helms of the national Association of Cannabis Retailers (BCD) told Het Parool.
Entrepreneurs have also come up with alternative suggestions, like raising the minimum age for coffeeshops to 21, implementing a cannabis delivery system or only letting locals buy cannabis in Amsterdam Centrum.
“We have a joint responsibility here and as far as I'm concerned we really can't resign ourselves to that. So I expect a good debate next week,” the mayor said.