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Amsterdam’s Residents Want to Ban Tourists From Cannabis Shops

Fed up with tourists’ rowdy behavior, Amsterdam wants to change its reputation as the cannabis capital of the world
03 November 2021
2 min read
Amsterdam’s Residents Want to Ban Tourists From Cannabis Shops

For cannabis enthusiasts around the world, Amsterdam is the number one traveling destination. And the city’s main attraction is its 166 coffee shops. The innocuous name doesn’t fool anyone — coffee shops aren’t really about coffee. Rather, they sell buds, pre-rolls, edibles, and other cannabis products that you can either take to your hotel or consume on site.

The problem is that crowds of thrill-seekers consider the city their playground and don’t respect it as a place where actual people live. Now, the mayor’s proposal made earlier this year may make Amsterdam’s streets quiet again. Mayor Femke Halsema proposed to change the rules on alcohol consumption, ban tourists from cannabis cafes altogether, and move the infamous Red Light district outside the city’s limits.

Banning Something That Was Never Legal

Amsterdam emerged as the weed capital of the world in the 1970s when the new policy of tolerance was adopted in the Netherlands. The possession of small quantities of cannabis flowers—up to 5 grams—was decriminalized, and Amsterdam as well as other cities allowed the proliferation of cafes that sold the substance.

Amsterdam’s Residents Want to Ban Tourists From Cannabis Shops: A picture of Amsterdam

Thanks to the Netherlands' liberal policy, cannabis in Amsterdam is everywhere.

At the same time, the cultivation remains technically prohibited, and the police simply close their eyes as to where coffee shops buy their product from. This keeps shop owners on a short leash, and inroads on their business happen from time to time. Sometimes, because of the neighbors’ complaints, and sometimes because of the elected officials’ wish to break the ingrained mental association between Amsterdam and cannabis.

Cafe Owners Warn of Unintended Consequences

While the idea of replacing intoxicated youngsters with quiet sight-seers and museum-goers may appeal to those who run the city or live next door to coffee shops, the owners of the establishments themselves are skeptical.

The situation may turn out just the same as last year when cannabis cafes were closed down due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Those measures resulted in a sight highly unusual for Amsterdam — a pot dealer on every street corner.

Besides, coffee shop owners are worried about the drop in revenues that new restrictions are sure to bring. One of them, Eve Mcguire, said that without tourists, they would lose 80 percent of the business. Locals do buy cannabis, but they don’t sit down to enjoy it, and this would leave cafes half-empty.

In the worst-case scenario, many establishments would have to close doors and move elsewhere.


03 November 2021