'Weed Pass' Tourist Ban Proposed for Amsterdam Coffeeshops

Smokey Coffeeshop in Amsterdam located at Rembrandtplein 24 (image via Dominic Milton Trott/Flickr)

The Netherlands has long been known as a liberal bastion where marijuana and prostitution are tolerated and tourists travel to experience those freedoms. But conservative Dutch legislators and officials have slowly but surely retreated from thoses popular policies.

In 2012, the country adopted what is known as the "weed pass," which is restricted to Dutch citizens. You need a weed pass to enter a coffeeshop where cannabis is legally sold.

This policy was established primarily in the southern provinces on the German and Belgian borders. But efforts to apply the tourist ban in Amsterdam have failed. On January 8, 2021,  Mayor Femke Halsema proposed such a ban to the Amsterdam council, stating:

"The cannabis market is too big and overheated. I want to shrink the cannabis market and make it manageable. The residence condition is far-reaching, but I see no alternative. Coffeeshops, especially in the center, largely run on tourists. The increase in tourism has only increased demand.”

Halsema contends the cannabis businesses attract the wrong clientele who are interested in hard drugs as well and the illegal cultivation industry is run by organized crime.

Update: Halsema continues her efforts to enforce "a national residents-only rule, known as the i-criterium." She was rebuffed by the city's councillers in a vote on Oct. 5, 2022.

It's hard to understand how Dutch officials would want to apply such a ban after years of lenient policies that made Holland the leading advocate for cannabis commerecialization, even if the country has yet to adopt legalization. Meanwhile, since the Dutch legalized prostitution in 2000, the city's infamous red-light district has been reduced in size.

The crackdown on Amsterdam's coffeeshops has reduced the total number of locations from 350 more than a decade agodown to the current 166. Stores where people can purchase marijuana products from menus remain open across the country.


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.