Tourists could be banned from Amsterdam coffee shops as part of the city’s plan to clamp down on drugs tourism and organised crime.
Now if you’re thinking “what’s coffee got to do with drugs or organised crime” then my best advice to you is not to buy a cookie with your coffee in Amsterdam or you could end up high!
You see Amsterdam coffee shops also sell marijuana, which is why they’re also known as “cannabis cafes”.
They sell is as cookies and hash cakes as well as weed to tourists and locals alike.
You can also buy hash cookies – or hash cakes – in bakeries in Amsterdam. Odd, eh?
Weirdly, it’s illegal to grow cannabis in the Netherlands but possession of small amounts was decriminalised in the 1970s and coffee shops are allowed to sell it.
Amsterdam’s coffee shops are a huge draw. Government research showed that 58% of foreign tourists now visit Amsterdam mainly to consumer drugs.
Indeed, when I went to Amsterdam with a group of friends, we had every intention of sampling the local cookies – but we were put off by our guide who told us that a/ the cafes are responsible for a huge rise in organised crime and b/we’d probably end up shit-faced.
Culture not cannabis
Now the wants to rid itself as a reputation for drugs tourism so the city’s mayor Femke Halsema has proposed a law that would mean only the Dutch would be allowed to enter its 166-cannabis selling coffee shops
If tourists aren’t allowed into the cannabis cafes, their number would probably shrink to fewer than half, says the mayor, who would prefer us to visit for its many cultural attractions rather than cannabis.
The new rule is likely to come in later this year.
Cannabis equals crowds in Amsterdam
Prior to the pandemic, Amsterdam was almost swamped with tourists. It was attracting nearly 20 million visitors every year, most of them young, budget travellers.
This was evident when I last visited in 2019, it was hard to get restaurant reservations, you needed to book in advance for the (many excellent) museums, you could barely get close to the famous IAmsterdam sign (which has since been moved) because of the crowds and the streets were packed with tourists and cyclists.
The city has taken several steps to reduce overcrowding, including cutting down on Airbnbs, stopping new hotel developments and increasing tourist taxes. These measures will make it more expensive, but hopefully less crowded and more pleasant.
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