Red7 , May 4, 2012
It has been announced that Dutch law will ban tourists from buying cannabis from coffee shops in the Netherlands in efforts to end drug tourism.
Since the 1970’s, Dutch cities, especially the capital, Amsterdam, have been popular destinations to visit for foreign travellers looking to enjoy the freedom of smoking cannabis in coffee shops where it is not legalised but it is decriminalised. The ban however, will change all of this. On Tuesday 1st May, the ban took place in Maastrict and as a result there was a 200 people strong protest.
The ban isn’t planned to go nationwide and reach Amsterdam until next year however, with the cities Mayor and Council opposed to it and with the city being home to a third of the countries coffee shops, it is yet to be seen if it will actually go through.
As part of the new law, coffee shops will have to adhere to a licensing rule, whereby residents of the cities will have to have “weed passes” in order to buy cannabis or smoke it, meaning those visiting for a holiday or a stag party in Amsterdam will not be able to purchase it.
With the coffee shop industry thought to have a turnover of £1.6 billion a year, this will inevitably have a huge effect on the Dutch tourist industry. Maurice Veldman, the lawyer for the Cannabis Retailers Association stated;
“It is a 100 per cent political verdict to defend the state. There is no public order problem with coffee shops in cities like Amsterdam”
So could it soon be possible to visit coffee shops on a stag do in Brighton instead? Well, Green Party Councillor Ben Duncan has voiced his view that Brighton should replace Amsterdam and decriminalise cannabis in coffee shops in order to gain from the tourism which Amsterdam will lose if the ban does come into place. Duncan stated;
“Of course, in Brighton and Hove, we know only too well the damage that the current drug policy of complete criminalisation of drug use is causing rather than seeing it as a health issue…So what about it? Brighton, the liberal, tolerant, tourist capital of Europe?”
Hmm. Spliffing idea or just plain bonkers?