Monday, April 30, 2012

Amsterdam's Famous Coffee Shops May be Closed for Tourists

The coffee shops in Amsterdam and in other cities of The Netherlands, known for sales of legal recreational marijuana, will be illegal for tourists if a recent court decision stands.

The country's coffee shops challenged a law that would only allow citizens and permanent residents access to recreational pot on the grounds that it would be illegal under Dutch anti-discrimination laws. The rational for the new drug law was an uptick in crimes linked to cannabis. There would be no exceptions to the new law.

The shops have vowed to take the case to higher court.

About 23 percent of Amsterdam's tourists make a stop at the city's coffee shops and the potential loss in revenue has its mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, scrambling to forge a compromise with the national government. However, with the collapse of the conservative-led government, new elections are scheduled for September, putting those plans in limbo.

"We have tourists that just want to have a smoke," said Michael Velig, owner of the 420 Café told The Washington Post. "If they're not going to get it, they will ask Dutch people who actually have a pass for the coffee shop to buy it. Or they fall in hands of the illegal street sellers."

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