Dutch propose to ban drug tourism in cafés

Foreigners could be banned from buying cannabis in Amsterdam’s infamous marijuana cafés after officials admitted that drug tourism had got out of hand.

Dutch authorities claim that foreign tourists who travel to the Netherlands to take cannabis, including many young Britons, cause crime and social nuisance.

The country’s ministers for justice, health and home affairs are expected to table proposals today which would create a members-only pass system for cannabis ‘coffee shops’.

“Coffee shops should again become what they were originally meant to be: vending points for local users and not large-scale suppliers to consumers from neighbouring countries,” concluded a Government commission in July.

New restrictions are also expected to reduce the amount of cannabis that can be bought over the counter, from five to three grams.

Last year authorities in Amsterdam announced they were closing down half the city’s brothels and cannabis cafés because of the “sex and drugs” culture they had encouraged.

A Dutch sociologist, Dick Houtman, warned that the Netherlands was suffering from the consequences of liberal policies on sex and drugs and called for moral restraint.

Mr Houtman said: “There is a feeling that our tolerance is the principal cause of many of the problems we experience now.

“The debate is about where liberty and tolerance should end and where order should begin.”

He added: “The nation’s ideals are being tested by the reality they brought.”

A report released in July by the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London claimed that people who try cannabis just once can show signs of behaviour linked to schizophrenia.

In the UK, cannabis was restored to the stricter ‘B’ category of illegal drugs in January after being controversially downgraded to Class C in 2004.

The reclassification followed warnings from police chiefs, doctors and campaigners who said the weakening of the law sent a misleading message about the effects of cannabis.

Related Resources