Big news came out of the Netherlands this past Monday that effective January1, 2012, only Dutch, German and Belgian citizens will be allowed into it’s fabled pot-smoking coffee shops. Tourists will not be allowed into the establishments because only card-carrying citizens will be accepted. It is expected that the entire country will be policed in this way by 2013, including it’s major dope-smoking capital, Amsterdam.
Their government has passed this bill because they want to crackdown on dangers that their Dutch citizens may encounter. They cite reasons such as unruly tourists, traffic congestion and general crime in the area as the tipping point in this debate. Under the new laws, customers will have to be over the age of 18, they will have to be naturalized citizens and have to be in possession of a government issued ID that proves they’re eligible for entry.
I imagine there are a lot of would-be tourists that are up in arms about this development. Amsterdam is a recreational drug-users dream destination and this isn’t going to sit well. But I have a few concerns about this too. In an age when our economies crash daily, how exactly is this going to affect the Netherlands? According to the Daily Telegraph the move will cost the city about US$41 million (€30 million) a year in revenue, the equivalent loss of 345 full-time jobs. So it looks set to hit the local economies quite hard.
Machteld Ligtvoet, a spokeswoman from the Amsterdam tourism board, told CNN in a recent interview: “The Dutch government has decided upon this for the whole of the Netherlands. Amsterdam doesn’t want it.
“Coffee shops are not actively promoted by our organization and are not used in order to attract tourists. However, the mere idea that one can buy and use soft drugs here is an attractive aspect of Amsterdam and its famous spirit of freedom.”
So is this move set to adversely affect the country? I believe so. And it couldn’t come at a worse time. With all the financial woes that fill our lives and businesses today, I believe it’s going to really hurt Amsterdam. The practice of selling pot is the one trump card that it held over other cities. But now they’re going to take a voluntary hit in the wallet with this new initiative. I’m really not sure what it’s government is thinking. I’d liken it to Las Vegas banning gambling.
And yes, I have partaken of the wares of the Dutch coffee shops. I was a college art student. Go figure, eh?