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In Amsterdam, getting high at coffee shops may soon be for locals only

Credit…Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times

The Dutch city, in an effort to crack down on growing numbers of low-budget “drug tourists” and organized crime, plans to forbid the sale of marijuana to foreigners in its famed coffee shops.

Tourists hoping to light up a joint in one of Amsterdam’s famed coffee shops after the coronavirus pandemic passes are likely to be disappointed. Soon, all coffee shops in the capital of the Netherlands may no longer be allowed to sell marijuana to foreign customers.

The mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, on Friday proposed a plan expected to be passed by the city that would only allow marijuana products to be sold to Dutch nationals and residents of the Netherlands. Ms. Halsema wants to stop the flow of young tourists visiting Amsterdam just to smoke marijuana and to undermine the criminal organizations that control the drug trade.

Policies in Amsterdam, known for its liberal attitude toward drugs and its red-light district, have over the years become more restrictive as the government attempts to regulate the ever-increasing numbers of budget tourists coming to the city.

Amsterdam, like Barcelona and Venice, is having an increasingly difficult relationship with many such visitors amid complaints that, among other things, they are inundating historic districts and that short-term accommodation aimed at them is causing housing shortages for local residents.

A total of 46 million people visited the Netherlands in 2019, with most coming to Amsterdam.

Many of these tourists, often young and on a small budget, come to Amsterdam mainly to visit one of the 166 coffee shops dotted around Amsterdam where the sale of marijuana products is tolerated. A whole industry has developed around such visitors, offering them everything from T-shirts saying things like “I went to Amsterdam but can’t remember a thing,” to shops selling pancakes dripping with Nutella explicitly aimed at stoned tourists.

Research commissioned by the city shows that 57 percent of foreigners visiting the center of Amsterdam say that visiting a coffee shop is a “very important reason” for their visit.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Thomas Erdbrink on New York Times

Published: January 09, 2021

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