UK & World News
Tourists Banned From Dutch Cannabis Cafes
Foreign tourists will be banned from entering cannabis cafes in Amsterdam after a ruling by a Dutch judge.
The judge upheld a new law to stop foreign visitors from entering Holland's famous coffee shops - meaning they could be banned by the end of the year.
Under the new law, Dutch residents will still be allowed into the cafes, as long as they have valid identification, or possibly hold a new "weed pass".
The restrictions come amid concerns that tourists are visiting the country solely for drugs and that foreign dealers are selling illegally back at home.
The ban is due to start in three southern provinces next month, and go nationwide by the end of the year.
The new regulation reins in one of the country's most cherished symbols of tolerance - its laissez-faire attitude toward soft drugs.
For many tourists visiting Amsterdam, smoking a cannabis joint in a canal-side coffee shop ranks high on their to-do lists.
Relaxing outside The Bulldog, a coffee shop in downtown Amsterdam, Gavin Harrison and Ian Leigh of Northern Ireland said they hoped the city wouldn't change.
"I think it's going to be a shame for Amsterdam, I think it's going to lose a lot of tourists," Mr Harrison said.
Mr Leigh said he had been visiting Amsterdam for a decade and had noticed the erosion of tolerance over the years. "It's taking a step back," he said.Coffee shop owners have not given up the fight.
A week ago they mustered a few hundred patrons for a "smoke-out" in downtown Amsterdam to protest the new restrictions.A lawyer for the owners, Maurice Veldman, said he would file an appeal against the ruling by The Hague District court.
The ban will turn coffee shops into private clubs with membership open only to Dutch residents and limited to 2,000 per shop.The Netherlands has more than 650 coffee shops, 214 of them in Amsterdam.