Amsterdam Tourists May Be Banned From Weed Stores

In an effort to reduce the influx of cannabis tourists, Amsterdam officials are considering banning them from their famous cannabis cafes.

Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands, with 872,680 residents living in the city, over 1.3 million in the urban areas and over 2.4 million in metropolitan areas. While some refer to Amsterdam as the "Venice of the North," it is better known to tourists for its euphemistically titled "coffee shops," in which foreigners can purchase cannabis products.

Though some of Amsterdam's citizens are beginning to grow tired of the city's cannabis-centric reputation, with the mayor Femke Halsema now considering banning tourists from consuming cannabis.

The consideration comes after a recent survey of young tourists which revealed that 57 percent of visitors had decided to travel to Amsterdam primarily because they wanted to go to cannabis cafes and get stoned.

The survey, carried out in August 2019, was given to respondents aged between 18 to 35. The primary focus of the survey centered around the reasons that tourists might visit the city, and "what would happen to the willingness of tourists to visit Amsterdam if either the availability or accessibility of one or more of these factors should reduce or disappear."

Additionally, the survey revealed that out of the 1,100 respondents involved, 34% indicated they would visit Amsterdam less frequently if they weren't able to visit coffee shops, and 11% said they would cease visiting entirely.

The considered cannabis ban for tourists may sound left-field for a city that is known almost entirely for its cannabis cafes, however it doesn't come without precedent, as Amsterdam officials have already tried to discourage "nuisance tourists" from flocking to the city previously. These efforts began last year when the city decided it would be banning tours to the city's infamous "red light district" after 10 pm, with the ban taking place in April 2020. The ban will also prevent tour groups from crowding infrastructure bottlenecks such as narrow bridges or alleyways, and any guide that breaks the new rules may face fines of up to $205.

Furthermore, the city removed the renowned "I Amsterdam" sign from outside the Rijksmuseum, the city's main art gallery. The sign was removed as it was "drawing too big of a crowd to an already limited space."

Amsterdam's cannabis tourism ban is both understandable and yet counter-intuitive at the same time. While it makes complete sense for Amsterdam residents to wish to preserve their culture and way of life, and not have their city surrounded by a haze of constant cannabis smoke, the surveys also reveal that tourism will experience a sharp drop should the city go ahead with a cannabis ban.

At a time when drug laws are loosening and an increasing number of countries and states are legalizing the plant – and moreover, at a time when these countries and states are seeing enormous profits and job growth from their respective cannabis industries, Amsterdam's move would be one against the current tides.

The future is uncertain for cannabis tourism in Amsterdam, though it's looking like tourists may soon have to take their business elsewhere if they want to get their fix of the flower.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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