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article imageAmsterdam mayor lifts cannabis ban on tourists

By Greta McClain     Nov 1, 2012 in World
Amsterdam - Despite a newly enacted Dutch law aimed at reducing the country's drug tourism, Amsterdam's mayor has announced he will allow coffee shops that sell marijuana and hashish to remain open to tourists.
Amsterdam's mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, said the decision was based on the belief that banning the sale of cannabis and hashish would spur a revival of the black-market trade. It would also make it virtually impossible either to monitor the quality of the drugs or ensure that individuals under the age of 18 have little or no access to the drugs.
In 2010, the Dutch government proposed a new law that would prevent coffee shops from selling the drugs to nonresidents. The law also turns the coffee shops into "members only" clubs. Dutch nationals would have to register with a coffee shop in order to enter the premises. The law is scheduled to go into effect nation wide on Jan. 1, 2013.
According to a BBC report, one third of all foreign tourists who visit Amsterdam are cannabis users. Those tourists come to the city primarily to purchase and consume the drug.
Van der Laan does not believe the 1.5 million tourists who visit the city each year will take the new law lightly. He told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant:
“They will swarm all over the city looking for drugs. This would lead to more robberies, quarrels about fake drugs and no control of the quality of drugs on the market. Everything we have worked toward would be lost to misery,”
Joints are on the menu at an Amsterdam coffee shop.
Joints are on the menu at an Amsterdam coffee shop.
JaviC
The mayor's office has assured the Dutch government that "criminality and related problems around coffee shops will be strongly addressed and that marijuana use among young people will be further countered."
Cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, however possession of less than five grams of the substance was decriminalized in 1976 according to the Telegraph.
Amsterdam.com states that coffee shops are allowed to sell a up to five grams of cannabis per customer if the customer can provide identification proving they are over the age of 18. The new law will not change that provision.
Amsterdam is home to 214 of the country's 650 coffee shops.
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