Remember those rumours that Amsterdam was going to stop selling cannabis to tourists from the New Year? Well, today the Mayor of Amsterdam has scrapped those plans so that 1.5 million weed-loving tourists can continue to spark up in their cafes.
The plan was to introduce a 'weed pass' in January, restricted to Dutch natives, which would effectively ban tourists from buying the drug from coffee shops across the country.
But there's been a shift in policy since the Netherlands' new coalition government came in. Rather than reverse the ban, they've left it to local councils who can decide for themselves whether to uphold the new law.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning, journalist Anna Holligan confirmed that the Mayor of Amsterdam Van der Laan fears a ban would simply turn tourists onto the streets and towards illegal drugs.
"There's been a huge shift in pubic opinion, and crucially, in government," she said. "It all started down in the southern regions, where they had big problems with nasty dealers coming in to the Netherlands and going back home to sell the drugs illegally in their home countries. But in Amsterdam, that's not the case. You've got tourists who come over to use the cannabis cafes, and then they go home."
Still, Mayor Van der Laan isn't taking an entirely hands-off approach. He wants to keep a close eye on coffee shops that sell cannabis which is too strong, and supports government plans to set a maximum limit on how much of the active ingredient THC it contains, adding: "Health is paramount. I have seen the damage it can do." [Radio 4, Dutch News]
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