Court OKs Netherlands ban on foreigners using famous marijuana cafes

The Takeaway

A judge in the Netherlands has approved a government plan to prevent foreigners from entering cannabis cafes.

The government had become concerned that foreign tourists were visiting just to take advantage of the country’s lax laws when it comes for marijuana. The ban is set to go into effect in three southern provinces next month and come into effect nation-wide later this year.

Anna Holligan, a reporter for the BBC, said the government is worried that tourists are causing problems — problems that could lead to an outright ban on the marijuana cafes.

“It brings problems to the cities. It’s not just in Amsterdam, it’s throughout the country,” Holligan said.

The coffee shops have argued that a ban on selling marijuana to foreigners in their cafes will actually force the tourists into the hands of the people the country wants to stop.

“You’re forcing them right into the hands of the illegal street dealer. Actually, the coffee shops say, it’s going to make the criminal element even more prevalent in The Netherlands.

Shopkeepers are worried that the new ban will be costly for them as well.

“It is going to cost me 90 percent of my turnover,” Michael Veling, a spokesman for the Dutch Cannabis Retailers Association, told the BBC World Service. “That is a very good reason for anyone to oppose any plan. Second it puts our customers in a very difficult spot, because why do you have to register to buy a substance that is still illegal?”

There are also concerns that this ban will cut into overall tourism in The Netherlands.

The mayor of Amsterdam, Holligan said, is strongly opposed to the new ban.

“They’re hoping to fight it. They’re hoping, here in Amsterdam at least, to reach some kind of agreement that will allow the tourists to keep on coming,” Holligan said.

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