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Amsterdam mayor: Coffeeshops to remain open to tourists

On November 1, Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan told the Volkskrant that tourists can continue to visit coffeeshops in the capital city, following the announcement of plans by the new coalition government to scrap the so-called "weed pass."

The outgoing government introduced the weed pass law, which banned the sale of marijuana to foreigners and was purportedly aimed at reducing drug tourism-related disturbances such as late night troublemaking, traffic jams, and illegal drug pushing. It was enacted in the south of the Netherlands earlier this year and was set to expand nationwide on January 1st.

The law proved to be highly controversial, was associated with increased reports of drug-related incidents such as street dealing, and was opposed by the mayors of the Netherlands' four largest cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht.

The new government has just announced that the weed pass (and the accompanying mandatory registration system) is now off the table. Nevertheless, it still plans to restrict coffeeshop entry to local residents, who will be required to present an ID or residency permit as well as a local council statement of residency.

However, how this residency requirement will be enforced is supposedly going to be determined in consultation with the municipalities concerned, and if necessary phased in, allowing each municipality to adopt a customised approach.

Mayor van der Laan has apparently taken this to mean that Amsterdam can choose to continue to allow tourists to patronise coffeeshops.

The Dutch capital is home to one third of the coffeeshops in the Netherlands. Of the estimated 7 million visitors Amsterdam attracts each year, around 1,5 million visit a coffeeshop during their stay.

Van der Laan says, "The one and a half million tourists aren't going to say, "OK then, no weed." They are going to comb the city searching for drugs. More mugging, fights over fake drugs, no control over the quality of drugs - all this misery we used to have will come back."

Even though not banning tourists represents a comparatively liberal approach to the new rules, van der Laan vows that Amsterdam authorities will more strictly monitor sale to underage users, weed which contains too much THC, and any criminality and nuisance associated with coffeeshops.

Carly

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Carly Blair

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