If Tourists Can't Buy Pot, Will Amsterdam Tourism Suffer?

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Courtesy Michelle Baran
An Amsterdam coffeeshop

Amsterdam is beloved for its canals, houseboats, museums, bikes, pancakes, and yes, for its cannabis. But a government plan to prohibit foreigners from buying marijuana in the Netherlands could put a damper on tourists' high.

The government has proposed a plan that would only allow Dutch residents, not foreigners, to purchase marijuana, The Associated Press reported.

The new regulations go into effect in the south of the country on May 1 and are scheduled to be enacted nationwide on Jan. 1, 2013. It's still unclear how and whether the regulations would impact the famed coffeeshops of Amsterdam.

"The national government would like to introduce a national membership card system for coffeeshops in the Netherlands [that] would effectively ban tourists from visiting coffeeshops and purchasing soft drugs," the City of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board explained on their joint website. "Under the new scheme, only Dutch residents of legal age would be eligible for a membership card."

"The City of Amsterdam has concerns about these plans, and recently commissioned research into the potential impact of the so-called 'weed pass,'" the site stated.

The City of Amsterdam has been working to convince the government that the 'weed pass' initiative would be counterproductive.

"If tourists are denied access to coffeeshops, illegal sales and drug dealing on the streets of Amsterdam will increase," the City of Amsterdam has argued. "The City of Amsterdam does not want to facilitate soft drug use by tourists, but to help those who wish to use drugs to do so as responsibly as possible."

The City of Amsterdam reported that 23% of tourists visit a coffeeshop during their stay in the city.

The Dutch Cabinet decided on the regulation to restrict cannabis consumption by foreigners last year as part of an effort to put a cap on drug tourism — visitors who come to the country solely to purchase and consume cannabis. On Wednesday, Dutch coffee shop owners went to court in a last ditch effort to block the government plan, AP reported. A ruling is expected on April 27. Stay tuned, stoners.

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