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Mayor Proposes To Ban Tourists From Amsterdam Coffeeshops

Mayor Amsterdam Proposes Ban Tourists

Mayor Femke Halsema of Amsterdam proposes to ban foreign tourists from the coffeeshops. According to her, these visitors cause too much annoyance.

“In recent years we have noticed that the demand for cannabis in Amsterdam has risen sharply”, she explained to the public broadcaster NOS. “This is mainly due to tourists from abroad.” According to Halsema, those tourists come to Amsterdam almost exclusively for the coffeeshops and cause a nuisance in the center of the city. “Amsterdam is an international city and we want to receive tourists, but we prefer them to come for the richness and beauty of the city and for our cultural institutions.”

Weed Pass

The only way to keep tourists out of the coffeeshops is to have coffeeshop patrons prove that they are Dutch. This means Halsema has to install an admission system based on residency prohibiting tourists from entering cannabis establishments in Amsterdam. This disconcerting forethought means that the dreaded weed pass will come into play again.

Prior to the curtailed introduction of the weed pass in 2013, some of the fiercest opposition to such a system came from the green party (GroenLinks) in Amsterdam. Their defiance paid off because, even though the new policy was eventually introduced nationally, it was never implemented in Amsterdam or other major cities in the Netherlands. This compromise (the introduction of a new, nationwide policy of which the actual implementation and enforcement would be left up to the individual municipalities) was partly due to the efforts of the GroenLinks party in Amsterdam. Until this day, no one in Amsterdam needs to have a weed pass to visit a coffeeshop.

With GroenLinks being the largest player in Amsterdam local politics after the elections of 2018 (and with that the supplier of the city’s current mayor), it’s remarkable to see that this insane and offending weed pass now might be introduced after all.

Cultural Institution

Since the 1970s, the sale of cannabis in small amounts for personal use is tolerated by the Dutch government. The coffeeshops are allowed to sell weed and hash under strict conditions. However, the production and supply of cannabis remain illegal. Despite this paradoxical status quo, Amsterdam became the shiny, international beacon for cannabis culture. An ever-evolving culture that has been celebrated since the days of the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

Today cannabis is not part of the counterculture anymore. It has exceedingly become a part of the mainstream culture. It finds its established traditions and heroes abundantly represented in art, literature, popular music, and film and has a rediscovered, contiguous history that leads back to some of the earliest traces of human civilization. What more does a “cultural institution” require to be to meet the mayor’s standards?

Mayor Wants To Decimate Amsterdam’s Cannabis Industry

Amsterdam mayor, Femke Halsema says she wants to “combat fun tourism” by reducing the demand for cannabis.

According to the mayor, a large proportion of what she calls “fun tourists” is attracted to prostitution in the city center and the “enormous amount of coffeeshops”. That is why she wants to see whether it is possible to make these markets “smaller and more manageable”.

This is what mayor Halsema told local news channel AT5 when asked about the municipality’s aims to keep tourists out of the city center.

After the corona crisis, the municipality doesn’t want ‘fun tourism’ to return to the city. The intention is that establishments and shops will again focus more on the residents of Amsterdam. The municipality wants to achieve this by, among other things, introducing new rules and purchasing buildings.

Halsema says that she is now focusing on the coffeeshops. She sees that there are no fewer than 120 shops in the city center, a large part of which live on tourism. “It doesn’t mean that we just close coffeeshops. But we do try to steer the demand.”

Earlier this year the mayor told the same news channel that she had plans for a large erotic center or a prostitution hotel as an alternative to the city’s Red Light District: A five-story building as the new erotic center of Amsterdam. Here patrons and tourists could not only visit sex workers but also make use of catering facilities, a hairdresser, a beauty salon, and a tanning salon. It would have space enough for about a hundred sex workers.

Although it’s well known by officials that most disturbances in the city center are the result of alcohol abuse, mayor Halsema did not mention the ‘Heineken Experience’, the beer funhouse (with ‘tasting facility’) on the edge of the city center, where tours of the brewery grew to become one of Amsterdam’s most popular international tourist attractions.

Professor Of Criminology: ”Stop Closing Coffeeshops”

”The municipality should not close any more coffeeshops in the city centre, even if they are too close to a school.” says Dirk Korf, professor of criminology.

Research conducted by Korf at the Bonger Institute for Criminology, affiliated with the University of Amsterdam, concludes: “It’s too busy in the remaining coffeeshops.”.

While the government claims one of the major objectives of the Dutch drugs policy is to : ”diminish public nuisance (the disturbance of public order and safety in the neighbourhood)”, the lines with waiting costumers outside the still existing coffeeshops are getting longer each year..

“Due to the crowds it is hardly possible to provide information.” says Joachim Helms, the president of the association of cannabis attorneys, who echoes the findings of Professor Korf.

Korf, professor of criminology, recommends that Amsterdam should not close any more coffeeshops in the inner city, even if they are too close to a school. “The policy must be haulted” he says.

A city spokesperson announced that the report will be discussed by the Mayor of Amsterdam and his staff.

Amsterdam Mayor: “Medical Marijuana Should Be Easier To Get.”

In a letter addressed to the Dutch senate, the Mayor of Amsterdam, Van Der Laan, reiterated that medical cannabis should be easier to get for patients.

Last September, Van der Laan notably lent his support to Rudolf Hillebrand, an Amsterdam AIDS patients who uses medical cannabis, and who’s house and medical garden is threatened by the housing corporation, Eigenhaard.

The Mayor suggests that consultation should take place between the parties involved, pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, with aim to make a clear and sensible policy, obviously beneficial for the patients.

The new Dutch coalition government is currently under reformation, and considering the details of policies that will effect regulation of medical cannabis cultivation, and the coffeeshop supply chain, among other issues.

Dutch Mayors Call For Saner Marijuana Policy

February 2014 – “It takes courage to refrain from doing what, to some people, seems logical on the drawing board.”

This was the astounding reply of Ivo Opstelten, the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice, to the Dutch mayors who stand for the regulation of the cannabis supply chain. The 35 mayors recently joined forces to convince the minister to regulate the cultivation of cannabis needed to supply coffeeshops across the country.

Many involved experts, backed by the Mayors of 35 Dutch towns and cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht, argue that the current laws only allow the sale but not the cultivation of marijuana. Dutch coffeeshops, which are allowed to sell hash and weed, cannot buy their stock legally. This encourages organized crime and wastes police time, according to the mayors.

Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, told local press that cannabis cafes had to rely on “murky worlds”, and that the current situation in Holland was unsustainable.

The Mayors recently offered the minister a manifest titled “Joint Regulation”, calling for long overdue policy change. Quoting from the manifest:

“This manifest is a plea to the cabinet – in particular to the under-minister of the Department of Health and to the minister of the Department of Security and Justice – and the members of parliament to turn their ears to the cities and change coarse. A coarse that can make a change in the way these problems are dealt with. Our call: implement, together with us, a nation-wide system of certification and regulation for the cultivation of cannabis. Only then a solution may be possible.”

However, the Dutch government won’t budge and argues that any change in the law would not be welcomed by neighboring countries. Minister Opstelten said after a cabinet meeting in response to the Joint Regulation weed manifesto that the mayors signed in Utrecht, he will tour the ‘country’ in order to discuss the prevention of crime and nuisance weed plantations, with mayors and municipalities.

In spite of Hollands progressive history, the recent global trend of cannabis legislation shows the Dutch policies falling behind.

The international tide is turning as the world becomes more weed friendly. Many countries in Europe have decriminalized marijuana. The United States has legalized cannabis shops in Colorado with Washington State set to follow, while in South America, Uruguay became the first nation to fully legalize cannabis.

From the 1970’s Holland has been one of the few countries in the world where you can have a joint without worrying about getting busted and cities such as Amsterdam have since been celebrated by cannabis connoisseurs and freedom hungry travelers from around the globe.

The ‘weed pass law’ (restrcting foreigners from coffeeshops) was due to be introduced nationally on January 1st 2013 but in November 2012 it was repealed. Although municipalities are now still able to regulate the sale of marijuana, It leaves the issue of regulating the supply untouched.