When you walk through the streets of Amsterdam you can smell it immediately: the smell of cannabis. It is something that has characterized Amsterdam as a city for years. When someone mentions cannabis they immediately think of Amsterdam. People come from far and wide to experience this coffee shop culture for themselves.
But what does the coffee shop culture actually entail? And why do so many residents of Amsterdam believe we should cherish it? Let’s take a look.
What do we mean by coffee shop culture?
By coffee shop culture we mean the atmosphere within the coffee shops and the behaviour of their visitors. A coffee shop is a place where people meet, have a chat, and make friends. All while enjoying a joint.
Amsterdam’s coffee shops bring life to the city. For many people, the coffee shops are part of their social life. Regular customers know the staff of their favorite coffee shop in Amsterdam well. They also talk to other visitors and get to know new visitors, such as tourists.
The tourist ban: an attack on the coffee shop culture
Recently the mayor of Amsterdam revealed that they are considering a tourist ban for the coffeeshops. This means that tourists will no longer have access to the coffeeshops in Amsterdam. This would reduce the nuisance caused by tourists in the city center.
The regulation received a lot of resistance from coffee shop lovers. Even people who do not use cannabis disagree with the regulation. By prohibiting tourists from entering the coffeeshops, they feel that the coffee shop culture will deteriorate.
Public opinion regarding the tourist ban
Many cannabis users are against the ban of tourists in coffeeshops. There is understanding for the reasons behind the ban, such as reducing nuisance. However, according to many coffee shop lovers this does not match the reality of the situation. They give the following reasons:
It is hypocritical
Opponents of the new regulation believe that the government is acting hypocritically. After all, the government itself decided to make cuts within certain sectors. The result is the following. The few tourists that cannot behave after visiting a coffee shop cannot be managed by the authorities. In the hope of solving this issue another way, the government is now criminalizing coffee shop culture. This is why the mayor is campaigning to ban tourists from coffee shops altogether.
Refusing tourists is discrimination
Furthermore, people argue that banning tourists is discrimination. After all, they are treated differently based on their origin. This generalization is based on a few cases where tourists have caused a nuisance in our capital. If one would generalize based on origin in other criminal activities, this would cause a lot of controversy.
Many residents of the capital are of the opinion that this regulation should not be implemented, especially in a liberal city like Amsterdam.
Alcohol is the real culprit
Another key point why cannabis users disagree with the mayor’s statement is the effect of alcohol. According to them, cannabis is not the culprit that leads to tourists causing nuisance, but alcohol rather is. Alcohol leads to vandalism, anti-social behavior, and crime every single year.
But tourists are not banned from entering pubs and clubs. This would perhaps have too much of an economic impact on the capital.
Cannabis will remain available
Additionally, the final point described by opponents of the regulation relates to the availability of cannabis. Even if cannabis causes some nuisance, banning access to coffee shops would not solve the problem. Cannabis is available everywhere in the capital, including on the streets. And street dealing to sell cannabis to tourists will only increase when tourists no longer have access to the legal way of buying drugs: the coffeeshop.
The government will then lose complete control of cannabis sales to tourists. And with a lack of enforcement, the expectation is that this cannot be managed by the authorities.
How important is the coffee shop culture to you?
Many people come to Amsterdam every year to experience the daily life of this liberal city. Should we, as citizens of Amsterdam, deny them such a big part of our culture? If you ask us, the coffee shop culture should be cherished.
Cherish the Amsterdam coffeeshop culture together with us at The Border: the coffeeshop next to the Amsterdam Forest.