Starting next year, foreigners who travel to the Netherlands will not be permitted to purchase marijuana from local coffee shops. The current open door policy for buying marijuana is one factor that brings a large number of tourists to Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.
There are over 220 coffee shops in Amsterdam which are visited by approximately 1 million tourists each year. With the new policy change, coffee shops will only be allowed to sell marijuana to Dutch citizens and foreigners who live in the country. Each coffee shop will be required to register members who are allowed to buy from their location.
Iris Reshef, a spokeswoman for the City of Amsterdam, explained “The members-only rule is meant for public nuisance at coffee shops near the border, where foreigners line up their cars to buy.” Reshef continued to explain that due to this, Amsterdam, which is not a border city, is still in talks with the ministry in order to find an agreement that is suitable for the city.
The Netherlands’ government will begin enforcing new rules in May in the southern provinces, and in 2013 in the rest of the country, including Amsterdam.
Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten said in a letter to lawmakers, “There will be an end to the open-door policy. Stricter rules will make coffee shops smaller, better controllable, and reduce the attractiveness of Dutch drug policy for foreign users.”
This move by the government could potentially deal a blow to the Netherlands’ tourism industry. As of time of publication, officials had not yet commented on whether specific events had spurred the decision to bar tourists from coffee shops.