Tourists to be banned from Dutch cannabis cafes

The high times are to end for tourists visiting southern Netherlands as they are to be banned from smoking cannabis in coffee shops.

As of January 1, 2012, a new policy will go into effect banning all foreigners from smoking marijuana in coffee shops in three of the country’s southern provinces.

In 2013, the ban will expand to the remaining nine provinces, including Amsterdam, a city that is extremely popular with tourists and backpackers who want to smoke dope.

Amseterdam is a popular city to vist for those backpacking around Europe, either InterRailing or on a gap year. There are 670 licenced coffee shops in the country and 220 of these can be found in Amsterdam.

Under the new policy, licenced coffee shops will become ‘member-only’, and only citizens over the age of 18 and carrying a so-call ‘dope-card’ will be allowed to smoke in them.

The move comes in an attempt to spare locals from drug related anti-social behaviour amongst travelling tourists.

However, there are fears that by banning foreigners from smoking in cafes that they will buy marijuana at much higher prices off the black market.

Some MPs have also argued that the Netherlands, in particular Amsterdam, could lose millions of euros in tourism as travellers won’t be drawn in as much as they once were.

Machteld Ligtvoet, a spokeswoman from the Amsterdam tourism board, told CNN: “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."

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, what do you think? Will you still visit the Netherlands and Amsterdam if they don’t sell dope?

For those of you thinking of visiting the Netherlands before the ban comes into effect then check out our Netherlands section.