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Foreigners Left High and Dry in Amsterdam With New Cafe Rules

Foreigners Left High and Dry in Amsterdam With New Cafe Rules

Foreigners are facing a ban from Amsterdam’s cannabis cafes as part of plans to fight organised crime and discourage drugs tourism.

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema has introduced proposals that would only allow Dutch residents to use the city’s 166 marijuana-selling ‘coffee shops’ – and plans to turn the proposal into law by 2022.

Government statistics show that 58 per cent of all foreign visitors to Amsterdam come to get high, according to Halsema; 42 per cent said they would visit the city less frequently if they weren’t allowed visit the coffee shops, while just over 10 per cent said they wouldn’t bother visiting at all. And then there’s the issue of damage to the local economy: another report says that the if foreigners were barred from the cafes, less than 70 of them would stay in business.

Marijuana is technically illegal in Holland, but under a 1976 law possession of less than five grams is allowed, as is smoking in a coffee shop.

This isn’t the first time that Amsterdam has threatened to stop foreigners from getting high, but the mayor’s proposals are backed by prosecutors, police and a majority of locals. It seems that future visitors to the city will have to get their high in other ways, maybe through the city’s fabulous collection of art galleries?

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Fionn Davenport is the editor-in-chief of the ITTN group, including ITTN and ITTN Ireland. He's one of Ireland's best-known travel journalists and writers, with nearly 30 years' experience writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet and others.

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