Dutch drug policy to favour locals: insiders
The government's new stance towards soft drugs remains tolerant towards local users, but coffee shops would no longer be tourist attractions.
The Hague -- Coffee shops may soon be off limits to tourists, reports the ANP news agency Tuesday.
In the government's revised drug policy, tolerance for soft-drug use would continue to apply to coffee shops serving a limited local market, but the rules will change for foreigners, inside sources told the ANP.
Ministers will officially discuss changes to the drug policy Friday.
Since 1976, the purchase of small amounts of cannabis through coffee shops has been permitted in the Netherlands, while cultivation and mass retail remained forbidden.
The nearly 700 coffee shops country-wide are allowed to keep no more than 500 grammes (about 17 ounces) on site, according to the French news agency AFP.
A commission was formed in early 2009 to examine the current policy and develop recommendations that will form the basis of Friday's discussion.
Soft-drug use in the Netherlands has been hotly debated since the government decided to re-evaluate its policies.
On one hand, some government officials believe the current lax policy has let the crime situation in the Netherlands “get out of hand” over the past 15 years, according to a report on nu.nl.
Several border cities, including Roosendaal and Bergen-op-Zoom, announced in March the closure from September of all eight of their coffee shops in a bid to curb the "nuisance" of 25,000 drug tourists per week, the AFP reported in July.
However, there is much disagreement on the subject.
"Prohibiting cannabis has undesirable effects: it promotes trafficking, criminality, a black market economy and a poor quality product," Jacqueline Woerlee, a spokeswoman for the Association for the Abolition of Cannabis Prohibition, told AFP during the 10th annual Global Marijuana March in May 2009.
The commission has said it supported neither the banning nor the full legalisation of cannabis.
An official government policy paper is expected autumn 2009.