By Emily Ledger
Millions of tourists flock to the famous city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands every year. Among the historic sites, quaint canals, and museums, many travel to experience the thriving Cannabis industry in the city. However, the Mayor of Amsterdam has announced that the local government may look into the possibility of banning tourists from purchasing Cannabis in the city’s famous coffee shops.
Amsterdam experiences massive overcrowding due to tourism, particularly in the Red Light district, where an abundance of coffee shops and dispensaries can be found. Mayor Femke Halsema has spoken often of her plan to reduce the number of coffee shops in the city, in order to target mass tourism.
In a letter to the council, Halmesa pointed to a report by the Dutch Office for Research, Information and Statistics, which estimates that tourism would see a significant decrease if the number of coffee shops was reduced.
More recently, however, Mayor Halsema has referred to a newly published report which estimates that around a third of tourists would return less frequently to the city, should they be unable to enter coffee shops.
The report showed that 34% of foreign tourists questioned would return to Amsterdam less often. An additional 11% claimed that they would not return to the city. However, the report also showed that 22% of respondents would ask someone to go into a dispensary to purchase Cannabis on their behalf, and 18% claimed that they would find another way to buy drugs.
Respondents to the survey were aged between 18 and 35, and listed Cannabis coffee sops as one of the main reasons to visit the city.
Tourists have been visiting Amsterdam for its relaxed approach to Cannabis for decades. In 1973 the Netherlands effectively decriminalised Cannabis, and possession and use is widely tolerated by police. However, the sale of the drug technically remains illegal, with the exception of registered coffee shops and dispensaries.