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Current Affairs

Amsterdam to ban tourists from Cannabis cafes

Date: 14 January 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous


Amsterdam may soon ban non-residents from its cannabis coffee shops as part of its wide-ranging measures to combat organised crime and illicit drug trade.



  • ‘Soft’ drugs such as hashish and marijuana, despite being illegal in the Netherlands, support a thriving drug tourism industry in the country. Around 58 per cent of all tourists who come to Amsterdam, mainly consume cannabis.

  • Currently, around 2 crore tourists annually visit Amsterdam, a city of 8.5 lakh people, and this number is expected to climb to 2.9 crore by 2025.

  • According to Forbes, Amsterdam’s coffee shops along with its well-known Red Light District attract more than 10 lakh visitors every month.

  • This cannabis tourism industry is allowed to survive because under Dutch law, possession of under 5 grams of the drug has been decriminalised since 1976 under the country’s so-called “tolerance policy”.

  • This means that although production of the substance is illegal, coffee shops are allowed to sell it, creating what is popularly referred to as Amsterdam’s “cannabis culture”.


Proposed ban

  • Only residents of the Netherlands with a passport could enter coffee shops once the ban comes into force.

  • Although Amsterdam has still not enforced residency criteria, it has taken steps to reduce overcrowding – such as driving up taxes, restricting new hotels from coming up, and reducing the number of shops that attract tourists.

  • The new measures are expected to be implemented next year upon the completion of a consultation and transition period for coffee shops. After this happens, the city could then have less than 70 shops to service the diminished crowd.

  • Critics say that if the ban comes into force, the cannabis trade would move from coffee shops to the streets, thus giving a chance for organised crime to expand.