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Tourists to be banned from Amsterdam cannabis cafes

Posted on: June 3, 2011

FOREIGNERS will be banned from Holland’s infamous cannabis-selling coffee shops under new anti-drug laws.

Under the new rules only Dutch residents will be allowed to enter the shops, which lawfully sell small amounts of cannabis to customers, the Daily Mail reported.

By the end of the year customers will have to sign up for a one-year membership, or “dope pass”, to the shops.

The legislation, branded “tourism suicide”, has been spearheaded by far-right politicians convinced that the move will discourage the “wrong” type of visitors.

“This law will put an end to the nuisance and criminality associated with coffee shops and drugs trafficking,” a statement from the Dutch health and justice ministries said.

Drug tourists have been causing all types of trouble in the country, Joep Delsing, spokesman for the mayor of Maastricht, said.

“They block streets in the city centre, they don’t respect parking rules, they are noisy and, when they go from one coffee shop to another, they urinate and vomit in the street,” Mr Delsing said.

Opposition MPs and shop owners argue that the move could cost the country millions of dollars a year in lost revenue, with the stores allowed a maximum of just 1500 customers.

“If this law comes into effect, we will lose money and jobs,” said Marc Josemans, owner of the Easy Going cafe.

Holland decriminalised “soft” drugs in the 1970s and has around 750 coffee shops, with 220 in Amsterdam.

The coffee shops were seen as a useful weapon in controlling drug use, but quickly became tourist attractions.

There are fears that the new laws will see Dutch residents supply the drugs to tourists – for a hefty fee.

Last year, 1.4 million “drugs tourists” visited the city of Maastricht alone. Foreigners accounted for 70 per cent or sales, worth about £8.5 million ($13.6 million).

Source

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