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No More Marijuana in Amsterdam for Tourists

Cannabis coffee shop in Amsterdam
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New Dutch laws to make selling cannabis to foreigners in cafes illegal

What is one of the main attributes of visiting Amsterdam for a traveler? Why, the cannabis cafes, where you can get good hash and smoke it legally in a public setting. Simply put, smoking pot in Dutch cafes is a novelty for most tourists, and, for the tourism industry, novelty is the name of the game.

But the Dutch appear to be putting an end to this long honed traveler tradition, as they have taken measures to make cannabis cafes “locals only.” Soon, any person who is not Dutch will not be able to legally enter an establishment that serves marijuana, the Cheech and Chong days of traveling to Amsterdam to get high are clearly long gone. The Netherlands has lost one of its major tourist attractions.

A million British tourists visit Amsterdam each year, but a big draw for a considerable number will vanish if the Dutch justice minister goes ahead with plans to ban foreigners from buying cannabis in the country’s famous coffee shops. –Marijuana cafes could close to foreigners

For a country to construct a different set of laws for foreigners and to limit the rights of people on the basis of their nationality alone is the musings of fascism. To disallow foreigners to partake in an otherwise legal activity in the Netherlands is a slap in the face to any potential visitor. Foreigners being called out as a separate legal entity in a country is a major step towards xenophobia, an illness that Europe has long suffered from which is beginning to raise its ugly head again en masse. When European governments start separating the people of their countries into “us” and “them” dichotomies, recent history tells me that I should stay far, far away.

By restricting their customers to citizens of the Netherlands, Maastricht is violating European Union laws on free movement and free trade, argue coffee-shop owners who depend on pot-craving travelers for a share of their business. But the EU court’s advocate general, Yves Bot, said that the rules did not apply in this case, since marijuana is illegal in every country in the EU save Holland. –Dutch city bans foreigners smoking marijuana

This is just another step in Europe’s current drive to seemingly make  itself less and less attractive for the foreign traveler and to solidify its nationalistic tendencies.  Not only do tourists need to work around the fact that they are now only given 90 days to travel in  25 European countries, the sky rocketing prices of accommodation in hostels, but now they cannot even numb their discontent in a good old Amsterdam cannabis cafe.

Cannabis coffee shop in Amsterdam

It won’t be long until the travelers of the world start skipping right over Europe as a backpacking destination. As I say, there is a whole world out there, and Europe is just a small corner of it. If a country is going to rig up laws to make travel difficult, more expensive, or less enjoyable for me, then I am just going to travel somewhere else.

Photo from Wikipedia cannabis cafe

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Filed under: Europe, Netherlands, Politics

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3126 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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