A proposal to exclude foreigners
In an attempt to discourage organized crime and drug tourism in the city, mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, is proposing to only allow Dutch residents to enter cannabis selling coffee shops. A recent study showed that 58% of tourists who go to Amsterdam do so to be able to legally consume pot.
The proposed restrictions on cannabis are being backed up by police and prosecutors, and if approved, would come into effect at some point in 2022. Halsema explains that there is much more to the city to come visit than its cannabis-selling coffee shops:
Amsterdam is an international city and we wish to attract tourists - but for its richness, its beauty and its cultural institutions.
The aim would be to make it harder for criminals to engage in illegal activity and reduce low-budget tourism.
What would this mean for coffee shop owners?
A transition period would be necessary in order to readjust to the restrictions but local businesses seem to in support of the proposition. Robbert Overmeer, of the BIZ Utrechtsestraat business association, believes that:
[cannabis coffee shops remain] one of the most important links in the chain of low-value tourism. We say come to Amsterdam for the museums, the food, for love or for friends - but not to skulk around, smoke dope and do drugs.
But not all coffee shop owners are thrilled about the proposal. Joachim Helms, of the coffee shop owners' association BCD, suggest that this will only increase the prevalence of street drug criminality:
Cannabis is a popular product that people enjoy worldwide. People want to smoke their joint. If that can't happen in a coffee shop, then they will buy it on the street.