You know those coffee shops that are, like, coffeeshops? Amsterdam knows what I’m talking about. Yes, the Netherlands’ capital and largest city, home to historic canals, wonderful museums, and a top-notch coffee scene is perhaps best known for something else: legal-ish cannibis. Back before the broader marijuana legalization push here in the United States—and with it the creation of domestic marijuana tourism—Amsterdam with their infamous coffeeshops was one of the world hubs for getting high abroad (and for many Europeans, it still is). But as it turns out, many of the Dutch aren’t too keen on the world’s rabble coming into their fine city to blow off steam, and according to the New York Times, are now considering banning all tourists from coffeeshops.
Stoner thought: have you ever wondered why marijuana, which chills you out, gets you “high” whereas as coffee, a pick-me-up, doesn’t?
Per The Times, Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema, proposed a new plan “that would only allow marijuana products to be sold to Dutch nationals and residents of the Netherlands.” The bill is aimed at de-incentivizing “budget tourists”—”groups of British, often male, tourists who fly in on budget airlines, get intoxicated in the red-light district, and keep city-center residents from sleeping”—from visiting the city. Entire cottage industries have been built around marijuana tourism, the Times notes, selling “everything from T-shirts saying things like ‘I went to Amsterdam but can’t remember a thing,’ to shops selling pancakes dripping with Nutella explicitly aimed at stoned tourists.” Personally, I find the implication that pancakes with Nutella is a stoner treat as opposed to just objectively delicious full stop to be offensive. Do better, The Times, do better.
The problem is, though, these tourists are driving up demand for marijuana—in the Netherlands is legal for personal use but illegal to grow, store, or distribute—which allows for an illegal drug trade undertaken by criminal organizations. The flourishing underground market has led to violence between gangs, even murder in the city streets.
Under Halsema’s plan, the number of allowed coffeeshops in Amsterdam would decrease from 166 to 66, but the remains shops would be able to buy and stock more. They just can’t sell any to tourists.
But not everyone agrees with the plan. Andre van Houten, owner of coffeeshop Chapiteau, believes the marijuana shops are being scapegoated.
“What is the problem here, drugs, or alcohol? … We always are blamed for everything that goes wrong in this city,” he said. “Also how can I check where someone is from? They might as well put a cop at our entrance.”