Amsterdam mayor proposes to ban marijuana sales to foreigners
The initiative threatens to shut down more than half the cafes in the city. The rule about selling marijuana only to locals has been in effect in the rest of the Netherlands since 2013.
The Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema proposed to ban the sale of marijuana to foreign tourists. This, according to nrc.nl, is stated in a letter from the mayor sent to the city council.
“The criterion of residence” for the sale of light drugs has been applied in the rest of the Netherlands since 2013, but Amsterdam was then provided with an exceptional position. The mayor wants to “reduce Amsterdam’s attractiveness as a destination for tourists who like easy drugs.”
There are a total of 166 cafes in Amsterdam that offer marijuana. While their numbers have been declining over the years, the turnover of the remaining establishments is growing, and this growth is largely due to foreign tourists who come to Amsterdam. According to a study commissioned by the municipality, only 68 cafes will be needed to serve the local market.
Halsema acknowledges that banning the sale of marijuana to foreign smokers could initially lead to the trafficking of light drugs on the street. She believes the ban should be enacted with a “reasonable transition period,” but it is not yet known how long it will last.
The ban on light drug tourism, the publication notes, is part of a long-term project to make downtown Amsterdam livable again and get rid of the inconveniences of mass tourism. Late last year, Halsema also announced a plan to close some of the prostitute windows in the Red Light District and move them to an “erotic center” outside the city center.
This is not the first time the authorities of Amsterdam propose to limit the flow of tourists who are attracted by the opportunity to buy soft drugs. The previous similar initiative was made in February 2020.
In 2018, the city authorities made a series of decisions tightening the rules for tourist groups visiting the Red Light District. In particular, guides were obliged to make sure that sightseers not only did not take pictures, but also stood with their backs to the windows behind which sex workers advertised their services.
New rules have been in place since April 2018. They are designed to reduce the number of tours and protect both residents of the neighborhood and employees of businesses working there from an excessive influx of tourists.
Authorities have limited the number of tour groups, it can not exceed 20 people. Tour guides will have to get special permission to conduct tours in the area and warn their charges that they must “show respect for the local residents, businessmen and sex workers.” Tourists were not allowed to consume alcohol, use drugs, or talk or shout loudly while visiting the neighborhood.