Dope tourists a nuisance


The Hague – Dutch mayors are to meet on Friday in a bid to clamp down on the nuisance they say is being created by foreign tourists drawn to the country’s cannabis-vending coffee shops.

The gathering of municipal leaders, organised by the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) in Almere, north-east of Amsterdam, was arranged to compile a list of “sticking points” which would be given to the ministries of health, justice and internal affairs.

“Border communities are increasingly contending with drug tourism and the nuisance associated therewith,” the association said in a statement.

“Some municipalities have simply had enough. The time has come for discussion.”

Some 30 municipalities had indicated their participation by Monday, VNG spokesperson Asha Khoenkhoen said.

The meeting follows the announcement by Roosendaal and Bergen-op-Zoom, two southern Dutch municipalities close to the Belgian border, that they were closing their coffee shops, establishments with special licenses to sell cannabis, from February 1 next year.

The mayors of the two towns, who claim to have seen a rise in the influx of Belgian and French drug tourists, contend that the 25 000-odd foreigners visiting their coffee shops every week had “a notably negative impact on the public order”.

The Dutch government announced last week a ban from December 1 on the cultivation and sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms, another favourite among foreign visitors to Amsterdam.

And Dutch media has reported that some political parties, including the PvdA labour party, a member of the governing coalition, were becoming more and more critical of the country’s tolerant approach to so-called “soft drugs” like cannabis.

The ruling Christian democratic CDA has always criticised this approach, which allows coffee shops to sell five grams of cannabis to an individual per day.