Amsterdam’s Ban on Tourists Using Cannabis Cafes Overturned by Mayor

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By Ewan Palmer | November 3, 2012 2:48 AM EST

Around A third of Amsterdam's visitors come to smoke cannabis (Reuetrs)

 A law which would have banned tourists visiting Amsterdam from using the city's famous cannabis cafes has been scrapped.

The potential ban was overturned after months of debate by Amsterdam's mayor Eberhard van der Laan, who said imposing the ban would encourage cannabis smokers to seek marijuana on the streets, leading to an increase in crime.

The decision was made by van der Laan after the government of the Netherlands said it would be up to local authorities to decide if they want to impose the ban or not.

Van der Laan told the De Volkskrant newspaper: "The 1.5 million tourists will not say 'then no more marijuana', they will swarm all over the city looking for drugs. This would lead to more robberies, quarrels about fake drugs, and no control of the quality of drugs on the market - everything we have worked towards would be lost to misery,"

A widespread ban in the Netherlands was slated for January 2013, turning some 700 cafes across the country into members-only venues.

The move was intended to stem 'drug tourism' and prevent dealers from operating in the country.

Amsterdam is heavily reliant on its 220 cannabis cafes as a tourist attraction. Around a third of the city's total number of tourists are thought to be cannabis users.

Café owners argued the law was discriminatory and that around 90 percent of their income came form tourists.

While it is not strictly legal to use cannabis in the Netherlands, its use is tolerated and possession of small amounts was decriminalised in the 1970s.

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