Amsterdam coffee shops saved from closure


A city spokeswoman says 44 marijuana cafes in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam - about one in five - have been granted a one-year reprieve from closure.

The shops were to close Jan. 1 under a law passed by the previous national government mandating that all marijuana cafes around the country be at least 250 meters (yards) away from schools.

Spokeswoman Tahira Limon said today that the shops have been told they can remain open at least until January 2013.

The new conservative Dutch government wants to increase the cafes distance from schools to 350 meters (yards), which would mean the closure of half of the existing 223 cafes, known as "coffee shops."

But the city is attempting to negotiate an exemption to the rule. Nearly a quarter of tourists to Amsterdam visit a coffee shop.