Amsterdam is a city beloved by visitors for its canals, houseboats, museums, bikes, pancakes, and yes, for its cannabis. But a Netherlands government plan to prohibit foreigners from buying marijuana in coffee shops could harsh tourists’ buzz.
A new law would only allow Dutch residents to purchase marijuana legally, the Associated Press reported.
The new regulations are scheduled to go into effect in the south of the country on May 1 and nationwide on Jan. 1, 2013.
“The national government would like to introduce anational membership card system for coffee shops in the Netherlands [that] would effectively ban tourists from visiting coffee shops and purchasing soft drugs,” the city of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board explained on their joint website
. “Under the new scheme, only Dutch residents of legal age would be eligible for a membership card.”
“The city of Amsterdam has concerns about these plans, and recently commissioned research into thepotential impact of the so-called 'weed pass,’” the site stated.
The city of Amsterdam has been trying to convince the national government that the ‘weed pass’ initiative would be counterproductive.
“If tourists are denied access to coffee shops, illegal sales and drug dealing on the streets of Amsterdam will increase,” the city of Amsterdam has argued. “The city of Amsterdam does not want to facilitate soft drug use by tourists, but to help those who wish to use drugs to do so as responsibly as possible.”
The city of Amsterdam reported that 23% of tourists who come to the city visit a cannabis-selling coffee shop during their stay.
The Dutch Cabinet ruled on the regulation to restrict cannabis consumption by foreigners last year as part of an effort to put a cap on drug tourism — visitors who come to the country solely to purchase cannabis.
Last Wednesday, Dutch coffee shop owners went to court in a last-ditch effort to block the government plan, according to the AP. A ruling is expected on April 27. Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly.