If the newly elected rightist Dutch government has their way, American stoners, backpackers and college kids will no longer be welcome in the country’s “coffee shops.” It is not just Americans we are talking about though; all foreigners are included in the ban.
The government said earlier this week, that it wants to ban foreigners from buying marijuana in the Netherlands’ famous cannabis coffee shops. They are hoping to make these shop, “members only” clubs. The move is part of a national crack down on drug use.
Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten said that in the future, only residents of Dutch cities will be allowed to purchase cannabis. “Not tourists. We don’t like that,” he said on state television Wednesday.
For more than 30 years, Holland has allowed the sale of small amounts of marijuana (up to five grams) in coffee shops, even though laws against marijuana possession technically remain on the books. In recent years, conservative governments have increasingly signaled their unhappiness with the current laws and have embarked on campaigns to reduce the number of coffee shops.
Dutch coffee shops are a hugely popular tourist destination, especially with visitors from nearby France, Germany, Belgium, and other countries with cooler attitudes toward pot. Some border towns have already moved to bar foreigners, citing traffic, congestion, and public order problems.
While those border towns have already acted to restrict foreigners, there is less enthusiasm for a ban in Amsterdam–home to around 223 coffee shops. The municipal government there said it was studying the government proposal. “We are taking the current practice as a starting point. It is not perfect, but in many ways we have a functioning coffee shop system,” an Amsterdam city spokesman said.
Amsterdam has resisted enforcing some of the conservative trends in the past. It rejected a 2008 ban on marijuana cafes near schools that would have led to the closure of nearly all the bars, commonly known as “coffee shops.”
But it has accepted others. In 2006, the city shut down a third of its legal brothels, saying they were a magnet for criminals.