Home > Global news > Dutch ‘drug tourism’ set to go up in smoke

Dutch ‘drug tourism’ set to go up in smoke

A long-smoldering debate over the Netherlands’ tolerance toward public marijuana use is heating up, with the Dutch government announcing last week that it will start banning tourists from pot-selling “coffee shops” by the end of the year.



“In order to tackle the nuisance and criminality associated with coffee shops and drug trafficking, the open-door policy of coffee shops will end,” the Dutch health and justice ministers wrote in a letter to the country’s parliament on Friday.

While marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, it has been sold for decades in designated cafés and police make no arrests for possession of small amounts.

RELATED: Will Mendocino County become the Napa Valley of pot?

Under the new anti-drug rules, cannabis shops will be restricted to Dutch residents who sign up for a one-year membership, or “dope pass,” London’s Daily Mail reports.

The policy will roll out in the southern provinces of Limburg, Noord Brabant and Zeeland by the end of the year and the rest of the country next year, Reuters adds.

Amsterdam, home to about 220 coffee shops, is already in the process of closing some in its red light district. And some Dutch border towns including Maastricht and Terneuzen have already restricted the sale of marijuana to foreigners.

The new policy must still be approved by the country’s supreme court, and “there will be many challenges in bringing the so-called pass system from a concept into a reality,” says Jon Foster, an American who has owned Amsterdam’s popular Grey Area coffee house since 1994.

But “drug tourism,” which by some estimates draws up to 40% of Amsterdam’s 16 million annual visitors, is already taking a hit.

“For the moment it’s just bad for business, because everybody seems to think the law is already in effect as of this weekend,” says Foster.

Most pot smokers “stay for three to ten days, eat at restaurants, go to museums and entertainment, and buy a little cannabis each day,” he adds. ” Many coffee shops will probably close because of the diminished tourism, but the effect will be much greater as the results of the ban trickle down to the hotel, restaurant, entertainment, and overall tourist industry.”



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