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Amsterdam drugs: Tourists face ban from cannabis cafes

When international visitors are eventually able to return to the canals that crisscross the medieval streets of Amsterdam, they may find one of the Dutch capital’s famous tourist attractions off limits.

Amsterdam drugs: Tourists face ban from cannabis cafes

Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema wants to ban foreign tourists from cannabis cafes to tackle anti-social behaviour and push the city upmarket.

Owners of Amsterdam’s fabled coffee shops are pushing back. They have told the BBC that if tourists are banned from regulated establishments, they will be pushed into the hands of ruthless drug gangsters on the streets.

‘They let go of all discipline’

Amsterdam is famous for an array of things, including its thriving nightlife – red light district, cannabis cafes and bars – attracting 20 million tourists per year.

The council has already tried other methods to reduce the pressure that comes with “over-tourism”. Airbnb-style holiday rentals were recently banned from the historic centre, and the future of the red light district is under discussion with proposals to create a sex zone on the outskirts instead.

‘Only eight coffee shops left’

Inside Joachim Helms’ Greenhouse cafe, the walls are resplendent with photos of him hugging celebrity clientele, from Rihanna to Richard Branson, Snoop Dogg and Miley Cyrus.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” the owner told me. “People who come to smoke weed aren’t the ones causing the disturbance.”

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