A law that would have banned foreigners from using Amsterdam’s famous cannabis cafes has been dropped by the city’s mayor just mere months after the Netherlands first began enforcing the restriction.
The tourist drug ban went into effect in three of the country’s southern provinces earlier this year and was due to expand to the rest of the country — including Amsterdam — by 2013, the Associated Press reported.
On Thursday, however, Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said that Amsterdam’s 220coffee shops, where “marijuana and hashish are openly sold and consumed,” will remain open to all next year, the New York Times writes.
According to the Times, Van der Laan told the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant that that he had made the decision “after considering the unintended consequences that would arise from a ban, including a revival of black-market trade.”
“The 1.5 million tourists will not say ‘then no more marijuana’, they will swarm all over the city looking for drugs,” said van der Laan, who, according to the BBC, has “long opposed a ban.”
“This would lead to more robberies, quarrels about fake drugs, and no control of the quality of drugs on the market — everything we have worked towards would be lost to misery,” he added.
Amsterdam also “relies heavily on tourism, and cannabis users make up about a third of its total visitors,” the BBC notes.
Van der Laan’s announcement comes in the wake of a decision made by Holland’s new government to allowlocal authorities to decide whether or not to impose the drug ban.
The AFP notes that the Dutch coalition government, which is likely to be formed under re-elected liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte, is planning on replacing the current — and “unpopular” — law with a new policy that will “restrict cannabis sales to tourists and require residents to show identification when entering some 670 coffee shops around the country.”
This differs from the old ban in that residents will no longer need to join cannabis cafes and have their names “registered in a database,” according to the report.
Although cannabis is “technically illegal in the Netherlands, the country in 1976 decriminalized possession of less than five grams of the substance,” the AFP notes.