Amsterdam’s Mayor initiates plan to stop tourists from accessing cannabis coffee shops

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

International visitors who were intent on visiting the cannabis tourism hotspot of Amsterdam post-pandemic may have to keep daydreaming. Why? Because Amsterdam’s Mayor Femke Halsema has proposed a new policy that would completely prohibit foreign visitors from entering the city’s famous coffee shops.

A letter addressed to councilors on January 8 outlined Halsema’s policy, which was dubbed the “resident criterion”. The proposed rule change would only enable local residents to benefit from cannabis-focused services at Amsterdam’s coffee shops. Once in place, her policy is expected to better regulate the coffee shop supply chain and make tourism more manageable.

Since some 17 million tourists descend upon this historic city in The Netherlands every year many of whom are big spenders – the tourist ban for Amsterdam’s coffee shops is sure to dent annual economic revenue. Currently, approximately 166 cannabis coffee shops are sprinkled around the city; constituting 30 percent of all coffee shops in The Netherlands.

Tourist ban for Amsterdam’s coffee shops: Mayor expected to discuss issue with city council 

Contained in Halsema’s letter was a segment highlighting her concerns regarding the city’s cannabis-saturated coffee shop supply chain. Specifically, Amsterdam’s Mayor noted how legally licensed stores may be affiliated with hard drugs trade.

In an attempt to tackle this, Halsema suggested a three-step policy that targets regulatory loopholes in Amsterdam’s coffee shop scene. With proper regulation, she says, outsiders will not be able to access cannabis coffee shops, of which will not possess the freedom to expand their stores into franchises. 

Instead, Halsema indicated her hopes for setting up an Amsterdam coffee shop brand something that she says may initially prompt consumers to seek out the plant from illegal sources. Nonetheless, she believes that the shift from legal to illegal will only be temporary.

The Mayor is expected to discuss her proposed measure in more detail in the coming days; or possibly weeks. Due to coronavirus-stimulated “lockdown” rules, all nonessential businesses inclusive of Amsterdam’s coffee shops are closed at the current time. However, takeaway and delivery services are still available from coffee shops.

Tourist ban for Amsterdam’s coffee shops: Foreigners choose cannabis over Red Light District

Halsema’s decision to impose a tourist ban on Amsterdam’s coffee shops comes almost two years after she commissioned a 2019 survey exposing the opinions of international visitors. A total of 1,100 foreign tourists aged between 18 and 35 took part in the survey. More than half of the respondents claimed that their main reason for visiting the Dutch capital was to relax at a cannabis coffee shop.

Furthermore, 34 percent of respondents said that they’d be less likely to visit the city if they couldn’t experience Amsterdam’s coffee shops. An additional 11 percent said they wouldn’t bother visiting at all.

Interestingly, foreigners are more interested in cannabis coffee shops than the sex trade that thrives in the Red Light District. Just one percent of individuals surveyed said that window prostitution was the main appeal for visiting Amsterdam, while a whopping 72 percent preferred the appeal of smoking weed in a social setting.

Conversely, the most common reason for visiting Amsterdam, tourists say, is to admire the city’s scenic cycling and walking routes.