Europe: Dutch Mayors Say Border Coffee Shops to Close in Bid to Stifle Drug Tourism

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #575)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The mayors of the Dutch border towns of Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom confirmed Thursday that they will shut down all marijuana selling coffee shops in their towns by September 16. They said that by closing the coffee shops they hoped to end the public nuisances created by an influx of some 25,000 non-Dutch pot buyers a week.

[inline:smokey.jpg align=right caption="Smokey coffee shop in Amsterdam -- not closing down (courtesy"]Because of more repressive laws in neighboring countries such as France and Germany, Dutch coffee shops have been a favorite haunt of pot seekers in northwestern Europe. But the huge numbers of foreigners coming to the border towns has created traffic, public order, and other problems. Mayors of other border towns have responded with plans to move coffee houses from city centers to the outskirts.

The conservative Dutch national coalition government, while desiring to see an end to the coffee shops, has committed to taking no action until after new elections in 2010. That leaves the regulatory field to the mayors.

An attorney for coffee shop owners said there was little he could do until coffee shops are actually closed down. "But if you want to change drug policy, you first need to discuss it nationally and also check EU law if you want to discourage European tourists," said Harrie Nieland.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Mr Anonymous who are you and why are you posting on this site? I care deeply. The existance of Holland's marijuana policy gave the world hope that rational people can make rational policy somewhere. What do you like to do? I'd like to ban that and arrest you destroy your life, cause I guess I don't care about your rights cause you are not me. People like you should learn to say " there by the grace of God go I". It is not a fashionable statement these days I guess "screw you" fits with our times better but maybe the Obama age will bring us to place of less hatred and more compassion for those who are not us.

Fri, 03/06/2009 - 1:28pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

They should take a closer look at how much income these places bring in, they may be making a mistake. The only country in the world that made sense, and now they are moving in the wrong direction...oh well, America will have to lead the way afterall.

Fri, 03/06/2009 - 11:54am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

25,000 tourists every weekend to the coffee houses for Marijuana
have to eat and sleep somewhere giving business to hotels,restaurants,
local shops,tourist attractions,etc etc.
What do the other businesses in the area have to say about their potential loss of income?
The 25,000 will just take the train a town or two further in and give those places all their tourist business.

Fri, 03/06/2009 - 2:25pm Permalink
glenstark (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

You have to understand the geography of the place. Holland is freaking tiny. If the coffee shops are on the outskirts of border towns, it's entirely possible that the vast majority of the drug tourists drive in, buy weed, and drive home again. Depending on where they are coming from it could be like a dude from jersey popping into new york to pick up some weed. Of course the coffee shop owners are probably spending their money within Holland, and pay taxes on their income, so it is a revenue issue. Whether or not the revenue offsets the problems created is however debatable.

The real problem here though is dichotemy between the drug laws in rest of EU vs those in Holland. It really does cause Holland problems.

Man, I understand why everyone posts anonymously here, but don't you think we have to start oppenly showing a little opposition against the drug war if we're going to get anywhere?

Fri, 03/06/2009 - 4:04pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

When did lots of happy customers become a problem? I would be anything that this is simply another case of American drug war rhetoric being taken as science by people who think the A government would not spout bull shit this long. 80 years is a long time, most people living right now grew up on Marijuana makes you rape white women news reports. This week some DEA mouth piece was on news casts stating that marijuana causes mental illness. AS FACT.

We are much closer than we have been in a long time, but were not there yet.

The American people are going to have to demand our national leaders Reclassify Cannabis properly, we need scienctific studies done, and we need to reeducate most of the American Public.

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Fri, 03/06/2009 - 3:28pm Permalink
glenstark (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I have a few times. Especially in Amsterdamn, in the red light district, the drug tourism has a negative impact on the citizens quality of life. The scene is awesome, and a lot of fun for tourists, but I can imagine it gets really frustrating for someone living there. I can well imagine that in some small town of 5000 people, having thousands of drug tourists driving (or training) in and out can lead to problems.

Switzerland (where I currently reside) used to have more progressive drug policies, but it also became a drug tourism destination. I used to be able to walk into a shop, select a bag of grass from a rack, put it on my credit card and go home. It was lovely. But as the situation became well known across europe, europeans started driving in to ferry weed into their countries. Now, that activity is illegal. So the people coming in and out to do the purchasing have already been branded by their own countries as criminals. I assume everyone visiting this website is aware that criminalizing drug use creates criminals of drug users. Even if 99% of the drug tourists coming in and out of Holland are respectable citizens (aside from disagreeing with prohibition), that 1% of scammers, bullshit artists, crooks and junkies can overwhelm a small country (or esp. town) and cause noticeable problems.

As long as the drug trade remained discrete, it persisted. But as soon as things got too loud, and the neighbors started complaining, things got shut down. The increasing success of conservative parties in Switzerland had an effect as well, but I think the EU pressure and drug tourism was the dominant factor.

This is actually a big argument in favor of legalization in the U.S. We're huge, which means we can absorb a monstrous amount of drug tourism without noticeably disturbing anyone. We also have a montrously oversized police and criminal system (thanks to the drug wars), so we could redirect all the drug warriors towards keeping the unruly drug tourists in check. Big win for us.

Fri, 03/06/2009 - 4:24pm Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

[email protected],Vancouver,B.C.Canada This is the same thing we get here whenever legalization comes up.Like the whole world will swarm all over us.Europe is a totally different matter as everything is so connected but what the hell,it's just marijuana.The sooner it's made legal everywhere the better.This just proves how popular the weed is in europe.At least they're not blasting people in the streets like here and in Mexico.The US has always been shooting it up in the streets.Kinda like that other prohibition.Now that one was a winner too.

Sat, 03/07/2009 - 4:59am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The boarding countries need to punish thier own citizens who transport marijuana, do not punish or inflict hardships on Dutch citizens by removing, relocating and/or closing coffee shops because of illegal activities conducted by foreigners.

If people from France, Germany and other countries travel to Holland to buy marijuana at coffee shops located near the borders, then it should be the country where the person is from to prosecute or deal with individuals who transport marijuana. The Dutch do not need to change current marijuana or coffee shop policies because a few people from other countries break the law of his/her residing country. It should be France, Germany and other countries, whose citizens transport marijuana, that need to change laws. The bordering countries can adopt a marijuana policy like the Dutch or go right wing and inform travelers that a. transporting marijuana can punished by jail time or fine, b. will become more difficult due to increased searches at boarders, and/or c. travelers will be required to register to document frequency and purpose of each visit. I am sure officials at these boarding countries would love to implement a system similar to what the US has on it's Mexican and Canadian boarders, registering upon each visit, searching pedestrians, cars, packages, etc. crossing each day.

Don't forget to remove your belt and shoes the Americans are coming

Sat, 03/07/2009 - 10:10pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The fact of the matter is it is also Dutch law for individuals to grow up to five plants with impunity. With the wonderful amounts of various genetics, selecting a high yield strain can mean a LOT of herb on five plants (There was a court case recently won by a Dutch couple with a large amount of processed cannabis and they won their case because the procecuter couldn't prove it took more than five plants to grow.) Even by closing down every coffee shop, Individuals there still have the right to grow their own. I suspect the same thing will happen with the recent mushroom ban. There have to be some large grow-ops already out there to supply the over 50 smart shops in Amsterdam alone, with around 8 strains per shop. They take them out of the "1% Idiot" tourist market, but don't look for the polite (sp?...I found it odd the dutch word for 'police' translates to polite in English) to start busting down doors looking for shroom grow-ops simply because its technically illegal now. Case in point is that even if every coffee shop closes, any Dutch citizen can still grow their own crops for personal use. The whole point of whats going on there is tourist issues, not problems with responsible use of the drugs themselves.

Sun, 03/08/2009 - 9:54am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

All the recent laws, its all about control. The fake christians and their self rightous mind set, if you dont believe like I do then your wrong. The right wing nuts cases are hard at work to take your freedoms away, they will use religion, children, anything they canto twist the facts so they can control your money and life. How many churches have members who help sick and dieing people get pot thats helps them with pain, depression, and relief from side effects that so called legal drugs eat at our bodies? The main stream religion hides its two faced policies behind the same old excuses, how about stopping the lies and deception, tell the truth about the plant that is a gift from god, not an evil plant. The people who lie and distort the actual truth are the ones who are evil. Drug companies who would lose millions of blood money, cant stand the thought of free pain relief from a plant that anyone can produce with little effort and cost. So they spread their lies and hate by spreading false information backed by the drug companies who donate to these churches and other back door ways to create a false reason to hate the plant that only gives relief to patients. The dutch are being hand fed the same crap the right wing drug companies want to spread with donations to the mayors who then go out and say whatever the drug companies want them to say. This is exactly what they are doing in Canada and here in the states. The uninformed and lower educated people think their gov. is honest and lookin out for them, in reality they are just lap dogs for whoever pays them the most to say whatever they want. Wake up and smell the lies!!!! Stop believeing in blind faith!! 100 years of wasted money and broken lives is all the Drug War has provided, nothing more. Its time to take back our rights and freedoms from the big money right wing companies, we must have laws that reflect facts not lies.

Sun, 03/08/2009 - 2:29pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

liveing your whole life in the US as a smoker is like being the devil, they just dont get it, the dealers make nothin but money, they arrest everyone,no one gets hurt from the smoke,but everyone gets hurt by the law,someone send a bag Please

Sun, 03/08/2009 - 7:14pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Spent nine years in Germany and visited the Netherlands (Benolux area) frequently. Got a first hand up close and personal look at the many problems experienced there, especially in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a major tourist center (and not just for those seeking pot or a hooker.) Checked into a hotel on a canal not far from the train station and went through the "third degree" by the night clerk verifying that the room was for my wife and myself and that it was just us-- no one else-- that would be staying in the room. Upon asking, was advised that frequently druggies load up hotel rooms and party, and often pay someone who looks "normal" to rent the room for them. Was also cautioned not to leave anything in the car that might invite a break-in. Apparently cars with tags from out of country are readily apparent tourist vehicle that often contain cameras and such. Was told that drug users pose a major problem for the area generally, including muggings of tourists, etc. I could go on, but you get the genreal idea. Such adverse activity, if publicized, is detrimental if not absolutely ruinous for tourism and the many local businesses are impacted. It is much more than just meandering the streets to see the hookers advertising their wares in the window, and checking out the night clubs selling pot for consumption on the premises. If its any consolation, they also had a serious problem with drug ODs and bodies in the street- no joke.

Mon, 03/09/2009 - 1:09am Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

How many places would you drive to in this country (US), stay at motel and leave your valuables in the car? I, surely, would not do it! Just because you were TOLD that "drug users" pose a problem, you make the assumptions you do!? I know that big hotels in this country also have rooms destroyed by customers who behave more like vandals! Some, of them, being rock bands and their groupies, and such!

People don't OD from cannabis. Bodies in the street? Maybe, that could be any big city in the US!

It is possible your view is biased, for some reason. How would anyone, on here, know? Some, of what you write, reads like propaganda, to me.

Mon, 03/09/2009 - 3:56pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

a- tourists don't steal, and potheads don't steal either. it is local hard drug users who steal. closing down coffeshops won't change that unless it somehow reduces the amount of local hard drug use.

b- The illegality of big grows in holland allows for a black market in marijuana at the wholesale level, which probably causes some violence (but that is done by residents of holland. maybe foreigners, but residents of holland nevertheless). Legalizing the wholesale could reduce that violence significantly (although much would still remain, as i've heard 80% of the weed in holland is grown for export). closing down coffeshops wouldn't change that one bit.

c- One thing that probably happens is that some people go to the netherlands to use more than just marijuana. Illegal sales of other drugs out in the streets, around the coffeshops, and especially in the red light district, is proabably what causes the social disorder. This really would be improved by closing down the coffeshops (there would be less black market becuause toursists wouldn't be there to buy hard drugs; although locals would still buy hard drugs) .

-closing down all the coffeshops in all of holland (still allowing people to grow their own) would take care of problem c (problems a and b would remain), but it would cause other problems. Many people would not want to go through the trouble of growing their own, so a black market would replace the coffeshops, and black markets are always a huge potential for violence and social disorder.

- total prohibition (inlcuding stiffer penalties for hard drugs) would cause problems for holland because it would drastically worsen the local marijuana black market (as well as, obviously, hurting profoundly the lives of local pot smokers). On the other hand, it would reduce black market in marijuana for export as well as the black market in ecstacy and meth for export (which i hear are big in holland). In other european countries problems would rise as the black markets in other drugs would move there.

Wed, 03/11/2009 - 2:36am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

look police and judges and lawyers all make money from crime so if there were not so many laws .they wouldnt make the money .what you think they really care let alone really know that cannabis is not the problem.its common sense thats the problem here.and hey cannabis lovers stick together let our greedy leaders know we wont be voting for them if they dont change vote for pro cannabis from uk and we suck too.

Sat, 03/14/2009 - 1:52pm Permalink

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