Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Highs and Lows of Marijuana in Amsterdam

Want the low-down on drugs in Amsterdam? We've got it.

In what can only be described as a major buzzkill, Dutch lawmakers have introduced a plan to bar foreigners from the famous (or infamous) Amsterdam ‘coffee shops’ where marijuana is openly sold.

At present, the coffee shops are allowed to sell up to 5 grams of marijuana to people over the age of 18. It is still technically illegal to possess marijuana, but the punishment for holding up to 30 grams is usually fairly light. Smoking in public is generally tolerated, but most visitors still prefer to smoke within the coffee shops. What isn’t tolerated is the use of hard drugs like cocaine or ecstacy.

Cannabis has been a major tourist draw for Amsterdam for years, with foreigners flocking in for wild weekends and pot pilgrimages. A number of tour companies even offer holiday packages that include visits to coffee shops and tours of the Red Light District. While officials have no plan to shut the venues down, their proposal would ban them from serving foreigners. There are reports that the city has started to close several coffee shops in the Red Light District, however.

Locals who make their living from selling weed to tourists are understandably upset by the proposed regulations. Pot is big business in the Netherlands, with an estimated 40,000 marijuana farms in the country. Today also marks the final day of the Amsterdam Cannabis Cup, putting all the newest and best innovations in the cannabis industry on show.

2 comments:

  1. I guess stoned tourists aren't any more charming than drunken tourists. Surprise surprise.

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  2. Currently, the lawmakers are leaning toward restricting coffeeshops to a membership-only basis. There would be a limited number of members for each venue, and only Dutch citizens would qualify. Local businesspeople and the city council are not happy with this arrangement.

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