The mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that the city’s coffeeshops will remain open to tourists, despite plans by the Dutch government to restrict foreigners from the participating in the marijuana sales that are tolerated within.
The mayor cited a potential return of black market street dealing as one reason for opposing the ban. “The 1.5 million tourists will not say, ‘then no more marijuana,’” Mr. van der Laan told the newspaper. “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.”
The Dutch government announced plans two years ago to create a Dutch-only “weed pass” system to stymie the drug tourism that plagues the southern Dutch towns like Maastricht when Belgians, French, and Germans cross the border to purchase marijuana to take back home with them. Maastricht has indeed seen an increase in street dealing but also a decrease in street traffic, as the number of drug tourists fell sharply.
The Dutch government has not stopped its plan to restrict foreigners from Dutch coffeehouses. However, the new prime minister has indicated he’s willing to allow local councils to decide how to handle the drug tourism issue. Mayor van der Laan’s announcement may have been an effort to push the new government into making a stronger statement on the issue.