Dutch government takes action against the Cannabis business with tourists
The End of "Drug Tourism"
Before 2003, selling cannabis was illegal in the Netherlands. Despite the country’s legislations, the drug was being sold on the streets. The Dutch government then decided to legalize the selling and the buying of cannabis in their country. Since then, people can buy cannabis in coffee shops without the fear of persecution
Stefanie, a young student in Enschede, agrees that it was a good move to legalize cannabis in the Netherlands. “If [the government] forbids everything, you would be more excited to try them”, she says, “It is better to control the market and to allow coffee shops to sell cannabis.”
The country’s policies have brought the selling and the buying of the drug under quality control and standards. As a result, the Netherlands has attracted millions of tourists, especially from Germany and Belgium, many of them coming to enjoy the “thrill”.
“The coffee shops here are a magnet for Belgians, Germans, and others. They bring a lot of tourists, but there also has been more criminal behavior here as well”, adds Stefanie
Within just a few years, a large amount of cannabis is consumed by the foreigners. According to StoptheDrugWar.org, the total sales at the coffee shops in 2008 have brought a gross revenue of about $3.2 billion.
Furthermore, other businesses are also growing and getting more customers, mainly because of the tourists who come to the Netherlands to buy cannabis.
But not everyone shares the same opinion.
Femke – a mother of 3 children from Enschede, believes that “there are too many coffee shops”.
“I don’t want my children see those kinds of people on the streets”, she adds, “I hope I can be a role model to them and raise them according to my way”.
Gerd Leers – the mayor of Maastricht (a town close to the German and Belgian border) - is not happy to see the massive crowds of people travelling across border for drug consumption: “Maastricht has become more crowded, noisier, and more complicated because of the drug tourists. In recent years, new types of crime have appeared in the Netherlands, many of them related to the drug activities”
Stop "drug tourism"
Neighboring countries like Germany and Belgium have accused the Netherlands for selling cannabis legally. These countries are putting the Netherlands under pressure in order to protest against these policies.
The increase of destructive, criminal activities at the border had forced the Dutch ruling coalition to take an uneasy decision – to stop "drug tourism" altogether.
In order to alleviate the situation, the government has proposed new policies: coffee shops will now only be allowed to serve cannabis to local citizens. The quantity of members will also be limited – the range of members can now only be between 1000 to 1500 for each coffee shop.
According to BBC, a study has shown that there were once 1500 coffee shops which sold cannabis in the country, but now there are about 700 coffee shops left. More and more coffee shops will need to close because of new government policies.