Is Amsterdam Tourism In Deep Dutch?

Years ago my hairdresser took her vacation in Amsterdam. She’d never been before and looked forward to letting her own hair down for a change. Let me give you some advice: if you know for certain your hairdresser is going on a bender, don’t make an appointment for the week afterward. I came out of her chair looking like Tina Turner circa 1983 after an electrical storm.

Amsterdam has been on my bucket list of places to see for a while, and not necessarily for the freedom allow to enjoy good bud while relaxing in a coffee shop. Every time I’ve thought about going, it brought to mind that short exchange between Vincent and Jules in Pulp Fiction, where Vincent explains European hash bar etiquette, among other things:

So now I’m hearing my dream sojourn may be faced with obstacle, namely the high (heh) probability that Amsterdam will close hemp shops to tourists. I find this move incredibly baffling – while I acknowledge going to Amsterdam just to smoke weed is not the primary tourism draw, I’m sure those shops provide a much-needed boost to the economy. Indeed, for a long time access to the hemp shops was a selling point for people planning their vacations:

The linked article quotes a shop owner as saying 99 percent of his business is tourists. The UK alone accounts for one million visitors to Amsterdam annually – you can imagine the decline should such a ban go into effect. This would be like Disney World going locals only.

The idea behind the ban is to fight the crime rate, which I don’t fully understand. Isn’t the point of having hemp shops to keep the controlled substances in one place? When you take away permission for an out of towner to patronize one of these places, two things could happen:

1) That person will not bother going to Amsterdam at all, taking away money that would have spent there.

2) That person will go to Amsterdam and find a way to obtain weed illegally, and you really haven’t done much for the crime rate.

Will prohibiting marijuana to tourists help reduce the crime rate in Amsterdam, or hurt the city economically? I think of my own country’s history with Prohibition, and we know how that worked out – you took away access to alcohol, and crime actually increased as people sought a way to get it. I won’t turn this observation into commentary on legalizing here, but I will say that if you have a good thing going, why mess with it? Those who don’t partake may still wish to visit Holland, and that’s great. Those who do, however, now have options to go elsewhere.

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1 Comment

  1. Visiting The Hague?

    Check out the Stoner’s Guide to – Coffeeshops in The Hague, Netherlands.

    Have fun 🙂


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