Amsterdam, immortalised by Max Bygraves in his song Tulips from Amsterdam, is perhaps more famed internationally for its red-light district, marijuana coffee shops and also for its picturesque canals.
More than one million tourists descend on the city every month (pre-Covid stats) – a staggering number that’s larger than the local population (c. 830,000). And 57 per cent of those tourists cited a trip to a coffee-shop as being “very important” for their visit.
The fortunes of these the smokey, chilled-out cannabis joints are about to change because the city’s first female mayor, Femke Halsema, wants to ban tourists from visiting them.
Femke Halsema wants to make these outlets exclusive to Dutch locals and as such has submitted a proposal to the Amsterdam council to this end. The proposal has the backing of local police and prosecutors.
The cannabis market is too big and overheated.
Normally a destination that has a huge touristic footfall is welcome and encouraged, but no so in this case. The reason this is not welcome is that this opens the door from hard drugs and other crimes. The proposal aims to clean up the city’s image and “shrink the cannabis market”.
Ms Halsema told Bloomberg:
The cannabis market is too big and overheated. I want to shrink the cannabis market and make it manageable. The residence condition is far-reaching, but I see no alternative.
“We can be an open, hospitable and tolerant city, but also a city that makes life difficult for criminals and slows down mass tourism.
Halsema is expecting support from the business community as many entrepreneurs in the city centre would rather dispel Amsterdam’s reputation for unrestricted access to sex and drugs.
It’s not clear yet how the transition process will work, but a political debate will ensure and shop keepers will be included in the discussion.
Halseman expects the policy to go into force next year at the earliest.