If you’ve always dreamed of going to Amsterdam, sitting in a cannabis coffee shop and smoking a joint, that might soon not be possible anymore. After Coronavirus, tourists might not be able to get marijuana in Amsterdam.
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The Netherlands is very well known for its “cannabis tourism”. However, this might all come to an end soon.
Mayor Femke Halsema leads the charge
As an environmentalist mayor Femke Halsema wishes to ban tourists from coffee shops around the city, once travel restrictions are lifted.
Halsema has claimed more than once that she’s had enough of Amsterdam being “a holiday resort for soft drug tourism” as she recently wrote in a letter to the city council.
In the same letter, she detailed a plan that would only allow Dutch nationals and residents in the Netherlands to consume and buy marijuana products.
Marijuana and sex: Amsterdam’s top tourist attractions
Well before coronavirus took over our lives, Amsterdam’s coffee shops and its red-light district attracted more than one million tourists every month. Which, it turns out, is way more than its permanent population.
Halsema is not alone, as she has the support of the public prosecutor and the police.
Even business owners from around the city, and especially the city center, agree as well.
However, there’s been some discussion of not imposing drastic controls for tourists.
Changing the perception of Amsterdam’s tourism
It’s no secret that Amsterdam might be known to many for its cannabis and sex culture.
Now, advocates want to change that perception, control the flow of marijuana tourists, and lower criminal organizations behind the drug trade.
Mayor Halsema said that “we can be an open, hospitable and tolerant city, but also a city that makes life difficult for criminals and slows down mass tourism.”
Other cities in the Netherlands like Maastricht and Den Bosch already banned tourists from their coffee shops.
Marijuana trade “too big and overheated”
Apparently, the marijuana trade in Amsterdam became “too big and overheated” as stated by the mayor. She wants to return the city to be known as one of the most beautiful in the world, with multiple first-class attractions that aren’t necessarily “soft drugs”.
During the pandemic and lockdowns, shops around Amsterdam have remained open, although customers have to take their purchases outside.
Increasing demand for cannabis
The demand had been neverending for cannabis before the coronavirus pandemic. Other tourist attractions were promoted by officials, but cannabis was still at center despite these efforts.
The goal in mind is to reduce the amount of tourists that go to Amsterdam, in order to improve quality of life for residents. Especially around the center area of the city, complaints have risen and even the increase of cheaper flights made it even more accessible.
57% percent of tourists go to coffee shops
The local government recently commissioned research that shows that for 57% of tourists, going to a coffee shop was a “very important” reason for their visit.
The city budget has taken a toll due to the collapse of tourism during the pandemic. Halsema is determined to reshape the entire tourism sector once restrictions lift.
“Amsterdam is an international city and we want to welcome tourists, but we would like tourists who come for the wealth of the city, for its beauty, for its cultural institutions,” Halsema told Dutch public television.
The Ministry of Public Health claims that the Netherlands has 570 cannabis coffee shops and that 166% of them are in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam has been known for promoting cannabis culture before, with activities like the Cannabis Cup festival, which they hosted for decades.