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Tourists WILL be banned from Amsterdam’s cannabis-selling coffee shops to drive down serious crime

Tourists WILL be banned from Amsterdam's cannabis-selling coffee shops to drive down serious crime 2

Amsterdam’s cannabis coffee shops are set to ban tourists in a ‘necessary intervention’ to get a grip on the local soft drugs market. 

Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema has said she wants to press on with plans to temporarily shut up shop on the city’s cannabis cafe’s to tourists as there is a ‘worrying interdependence’ between the soft and hard drug trade.

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‘Money from the lucrative cannabis trade easily finds its way into hard drugs,’ she said.

‘Many of the major problems in the city are fueled by the cannabis market. From nuisance cause by drug tourism to serious crime and violence. 

‘Banning sales to tourists is a necessary intervention and a first step towards regulation.’

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Cannabis coffee shops have been a famous tourist attraction in the Dutch capital, which welcomes approximately 20million tourists every year, since they have become available for recreational use in cafes since 1976.

The class B drug is currently available in coffee shops in Singel, Amsterdam, where the red-light district is located and prostitution is also allowed.

Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema (pictured in 2018) has said she wants to press on with plans to temporarily shut up shop on the city's cannabis cafe's to tourists as there is a 'worrying interdependence' between the soft and hard drug trade

Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema (pictured in 2018) has said she wants to press on with plans to temporarily shut up shop on the city’s cannabis cafe’s to tourists as there is a ‘worrying interdependence’ between the soft and hard drug trade

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Previous research has indicated that only 66 of the current 166 licensed coffee shops in Amsterdam are required to meet the local demand, according to Dutch News.

Halsema has said that despite street dealing numbers surging in other towns and cities where coffee shop access is limited to residence, the introduction of a ban would be the ‘best temporary measure’.

She says that it will ensure the cannabis market remains manageable as the experiments with regulated marijuana production are still ongoing.  

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To go one step further against the rise in street dealing, the mayor has increased CCTV across the city, displayed warning signs and has dotted ‘hosts’ to warn tourists about the ‘risks’ in the city centre and notably the red light district. 

Two of the biggest parties on the city’s council, D66 and GroenLinks, are not backing the move by Halsema.

They are currently in talks of forming a new coalition administration, along with the PvdA party, who are also opposed to the action.

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The move to keep tourists out of coffee shops is not backed by two of the biggest parties on the city council.

D66 and GroenLinks, which are currently in talks on forming a new coalition administration in the capital with the PvdA, which is the biggest party in the council after the local elections in March, are opposed to the move.

Cannabis coffee shops (pictured) have been a famous tourist attraction in the Dutch capital, which welcomes approximately 20million tourists every year, since they have become available for recreational use in cafes since 1976

Cannabis coffee shops (pictured) have been a famous tourist attraction in the Dutch capital, which welcomes approximately 20million tourists every year, since they have become available for recreational use in cafes since 1976

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PvdA have said they are ‘willing to support the residents only rule’ if the mayor is ‘committed to stamping out street dealing’. 

But if Halsema declares the move to be a ‘necessity’ then she does not require majority support within the city council, leaving it within her hands to impose the measures or not. 

In 2020, a survey by the Amsterdam Research, Information and Statistics Office found that 11 per cent of tourists said they would never visit the city again if cannabis was prohibited.

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Amsterdam is looking to stop foreign tourists, who are known to be rowdy in the red-light areas, from being drawn to the city centre.

‘For British visitors, coffee shops by far are the most frequently mentioned main reason to come to Amsterdam (33 per cent),’ the organisation told the Guardian.

‘They cite walking or cycling through the city less often as the main reason (21 per cent) than the average (32 per cent) and, on the contrary, more often indicate that a cheap trip was the main reason (11 per cent compared with 6 per cent on average).’  

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Possession of up to five grams of marijuana for personal use is decriminalised, but police are still able to confiscate it.

The bulk possession of the crop is illegal, as well as production, transportation and bulk possession. 

This often leads to coffee shops procuring supplies through the ‘back door’, and dealing with criminal organisations.

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Some cities in the Netherlands are taking part in a pilot project which will see officially approved growers and testers in a mainstream supply chain, which includes labelling of the amount of THC within products.

Halsema has said that despite street dealing numbers surging in other towns and cities where coffee shop access is limited to residence, the introduction of a ban would be the 'best temporary measure'. She says that it will ensure the cannabis market remains manageable as the experiments with regulated marijuana production are still ongoing (file image)

Halsema has said that despite street dealing numbers surging in other towns and cities where coffee shop access is limited to residence, the introduction of a ban would be the ‘best temporary measure’. She says that it will ensure the cannabis market remains manageable as the experiments with regulated marijuana production are still ongoing (file image)

The purpose of the experiment is to ‘determine whether and how controlled cannabis can be legally supplied to coffee shops and what the effects of this would be’.   

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Owners of Amsterdam’s fabled coffee shops are pushing back. They have told the BBC that if tourists are banned from regulated establishments, they will be pushed into the hands of ruthless drug gangsters on the streets.

‘They let go of all discipline’

Amsterdam is famous for an array of things, including its thriving nightlife – red light district, cannabis cafes and bars – attracting 20 million tourists per year/

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