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Amsterdam's cannabis cafes will remain open to tourists, city's mayor says


Kevin Rawlinson
Friday 02 November 2012 10:46 GMT

Tourists visiting Amsterdam will not be banned from using the city’s famous cannabis cafes, its mayor has said. Eberhard van der Laan believes that changing the law would lead to more crime.

His decision follows months of arguments over Dutch drug laws after the country’s government said it would leave it to local authorities whether or not to impose a ban.

“The 1.5 million tourists will not say 'then no more marijuana', they will swarm all over the city looking for drugs. This would lead to more robberies, quarrels about fake drugs, and no control of the quality of drugs on the market - everything we have worked towards would be lost to misery,” said Mr Van der Laan.

The city relies on tourism and there were fears that a ban would make it less attractive to foreign travellers. A ban was anticipated after the previous conservative-led Dutch government introduced a national ban on foreigners using cannabis by the end of the year.

But the relaxation of the rules allowed Amsterdam to break from the plans. Each year, some 1.5 million tourists visit Amsterdam to consume the drug, which is a Class B substance in the UK.

The government wanted to curb drug use and prevent drug dealers from using the Netherlands as a base. But the plan was strongly opposed by cafe owners, 700 of which sell cannabis in the country.

They argued that the law unfairly discriminated against other EU residents, and said that 90 per cent of their income came from foreign tourists, the BBC reported. It is not strictly legal to use cannabis, but its use is tolerated and possession of small amounts was decriminalised in the 1970s.

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