Weed pass "disaster"for tourism

RNW archive

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The introduction of the “weed pass” in Amsterdam will lead to the closure of almost all the coffeeshops in the centre of the Dutch capital. Jan Goos of the Organisation of Cannabis Sellers (BCD) claims this will be disastrous for the Dutch capital’s tourism industry.

The introduction of an obligatory membership card available only to Dutch citizens for people wishing to buy cannabis at a coffeeshop is intended to put an end to “drugs tourism”. This is a particular problem in the south of the Netherlands where large numbers of customers regularly cross the borders from Belgium, Germany and France. The regulation has already been in force in 3 southern provinces since May of this year. It is scheduled to take effect in Amsterdam and the rest of the country on January 1st 2013.

According to figures from the Amsterdam Bureau for Tourism, at least 25 percent of the more than 6 million foreigners who come to the capital annually visit a coffeeshop once or more during their stay. T he BCD claims many of these people will stay away if they are unable to buy a joint legally.

Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool also found that only an estimated ten percent of Dutch Amsterdammers who regularly visit coffeeshops would be willing to register as official members.

The Amsterdam city council is currently discussing with the Justice Minister the possibility of making an exception to the regulations for the capital. The council fears the restrictions will lead to a dramatic increase in the illegal street sale of cannabis. Police in Limburg announced earlier this week that 386 people had been arrested for buying or selling cannabis since the introduction of the weed pass in the province in May.