Netherlands to close cannabis coffee shops to tourists

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AMSTERDAM (BNO NEWS) — In an effort to stop drug tourism, the Dutch government on Friday decided to restrict access to cannabis coffee shops so that tourists will no longer be able to buy the drugs.

Coffee shops are establishments in the Netherlands where the sale of cannabis for personal consumption by the public is tolerated by the local authorities. As this is illegal in most countries, many tourists from around the world travel to Amsterdam to use cannabis.


But in an effort to reduce criminal behavior and tourism as a result of the drug policy, the Dutch government on Friday decided to introduce a membership system for coffee shops. The city of Amsterdam, where most tourists go, is against the decision

The new system will require members of coffee shops to be a citizen of the Netherlands and over the age of 18. “The coalition agreement says that the current open door policy of coffee shops should be stopped and that the fight against organized drug crime should be intensified,” the Dutch cabinet said in a statement.

The new laws will require coffee shops to become closed clubs for the local market, meaning that only Dutch citizens will be allowed access if they are able to show a valid ID and have a membership of the coffee shop in question.

The membership will be in the form of a club card which can be provided by coffee shop owners if those who want to be a customer can produce a valid ID and proof that he or she lives in the Netherlands. The membership will be for a period of at least a year, but coffee shops will be restricted in the number of club cards they can issue.

“The desired small scale will be achieved by the cabinet by capping the number of members of coffee shops. What the exact maximum number of members per coffee shop is will be determined at a later moment,” the cabinet said. “The mayor can under local circumstances impose a lower number of maximum members.”

The European Court of Justice previously said the new laws to deny access to foreigners is not in violation of European law. A court case against the new measures is still pending at the Netherlands’ Council of State, but the government does not expect this to be a problem.

“The cabinet expects that the closure of coffee shops to foreign drug tourists will result in that they no longer travel to the Netherlands for the sale and consumption of cannabis,” the cabinet said in the statement. “After all, for many of them applies that they can use the existing illegal market in their own country. Nevertheless will the possible side effects of these measures be monitored closely and adequately addressed by the police, judiciary, and administration.”

Additionally, the Dutch government also decided on Friday that coffee shops will not be allowed within 350 meters (1,100 feet) of schools. This measure is aimed to stop students from visiting the coffee shops.

(Copyright 2011 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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  • renan gonçalves

    Nobody else is going to Amsterdam!

  • Sillybilly

    Watch the tourist Euro disappear and the street dealers reappear ( and i shall laugh). All part of the nasty, ugly right wing christian tide that’s swept through Europe.

  • Haribo

    Just one more massive step backwards. Well done, Netherlands .

  • Tripaki

    no other reason for me to visit this wet cold expensive place.sorry guys and i am not a criminal…

  • JTW

    The main reason is to prevent drugs runners forcing foreigners across the border at gunpoint and kidnapping them to the places to buy drugs, which is a lucrative business in the southern part of the country.
    Of course it won’t work as these people are criminals and won’t suddenly start obeying the law and requiring those kidnap victims to show some ID, but what else is new in politicised crime fighting?

  • jogo

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have heard yet.  If they close the coffee shops to tourists, they can kiss tourism good bye.  I loved Amsterdam and although there are museums and some interesting sightseeing…the attraction is the coffee shops…where the tourists watch the locals and then the tourists can experience the coffee shop…I was told by people in Amsterdam that the police know the local drug addicts and they leave them alone, but if outsiders came in, they would arrest them…but marijuana doesn’t present that kind of problem…When income is gone, they will change the law again…unemployment will rise and coffee shops, a source of income will all go out of business. Stupid people make these laws …maybe they have nothing else to do.  If we legalized Marijuana here in the USA and taxed it, we would have less financial issues…

  • jogo

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have heard yet.  If they close the coffee shops to tourists, they can kiss tourism good bye.  I loved Amsterdam and although there are museums and some interesting sightseeing…the attraction is the coffee shops…where the tourists watch the locals and then the tourists can experience the coffee shop…I was told by people in Amsterdam that the police know the local drug addicts and they leave them alone, but if outsiders came in, they would arrest them…but marijuana doesn’t present that kind of problem…When income is gone, they will change the law again…unemployment will rise and coffee shops, a source of income will all go out of business. Stupid people make these laws …maybe they have nothing else to do.  If we legalized Marijuana here in the USA and taxed it, we would have less financial issues…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lyndon-Ford/1058714413 Lyndon Ford

    How is the proposed law to ban foreigners from buying weed going to help in any way? It will create a black market for the product, crime rates will soar, government revenue will fall, tourism will decrease, Amsterdam will become seedy and dangerous for tourists. Amsterdam has always been modern thinking in its approach to such matters. To only allow Nationals to buy is a half hearted attempt at enforcement, I would have more respect for a total ban than this half arsed approach which translates as ‘TOURISTS NOT WELCOME’. Amsterdam and Holland as a whole will suffer if this goes ahead….  What a sad day!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lyndon-Ford/1058714413 Lyndon Ford

    How is the proposed law to ban foreigners from buying weed going to help in any way? It will create a black market for the product, crime rates will soar, government revenue will fall, tourism will decrease, Amsterdam will become seedy and dangerous for tourists. Amsterdam has always been modern thinking in its approach to such matters. To only allow Nationals to buy is a half hearted attempt at enforcement, I would have more respect for a total ban than this half arsed approach which translates as ‘TOURISTS NOT WELCOME’. Amsterdam and Holland as a whole will suffer if this goes ahead….  What a sad day!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=546466085 Ash Whiting

    I cannot believe how stupid an idea this is. Goodbye Amsterdam as a tourist destination. Welcome back horrible street dealers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=546466085 Ash Whiting

    I cannot believe how stupid an idea this is. Goodbye Amsterdam as a tourist destination. Welcome back horrible street dealers.

  • Bruce Harrington

    I went to the cannabis cup in 2005 with a friend. We each spent $5,000
    for a months stay, but were severely disappointed. The quality of the
    weed was terrible, (much better in Seattle,WA.), and except for the
    staff of the coffee shops, a lot of Dutch are rude and arrogant, not to
    mention racially prejudice – (check out their Christmas traditions,
    probable the only country that still tolerates the use of “black face”
    costumes.)

    I WOULD NEVER GO BACK AND I’M SORRY I EVER WENT.

    BAD (NOT GOOD) WEED.

    RUDE PEOPLE.

    LAND OF GREEDY INTERNATIONAL BANKERS. 

  • Alansells2

    I was there in September and everything is back to normal. Even tobacco is OK now in most coffee shops. Tobacco had been made illegal EVERYWHERE in Amsterdam in July 2010 so the bars were strange that Summer. Things pretty much back to normal in bars and most coffee shops. Strange being in a bar where they smoke pot and hashish but you can’t smoke tobacco.

  • zzzxxx

    it seems it has been implemented and that the deadline is december 31st 2011, after that only dutch. i wonder if is against the European law . In any case it seems dutch got back to their old racist style. at the bottom line, they will kill their economy.

  • Sarah

    nobody’s gonna go to the Netherlands anymore if they actually go through with this. They’re such idiots, most of their income comes from tourism and most tourists are only there for the coffee shops. They’re also going to have a lot of angry citizens because the coffee shops will lose business and probably end up shutting down.

  • Octa

    Stupid people, people are dying from tobacco and alchool and class A drugs but nobody was harmed by cannabis. Moreover, cannabis is a wnderful medicinal plant. However, dutch people are great and orriginal people. It will be a wonderful past the present allowance of coffe-shops. I hope in 10-20 years cannabis will be legalised, at least medicinally used cannabis in europe.  

  • On2pnur

    Bruce just to let you know . The “black face” has nothing to do with african americans or even africans.   It is a tradition in Holland to celebrate Sinterklaas that lives in spain and Black petes are hishelpers . Nothing racial about it.   I think you have been stoned too long to realize that American points of view are often viewed as the only point of view rather that just another one. 

    I’m an american living in Holland with family and friends in Redmond, Wasington

    Amsterdam is also not the place to judge the population as many are visitors just as you are and the local are as you said at time arrogant