Parliament called for a ban last year after the death of a 17-year-old French tourist who is believed to have eaten so-called magic mushrooms before she jumped off a bridge in Amsterdam.
According to Amsterdam health service figures, ambulances were called out 149 times last year to deal with people who had taken hallucinogenic mushrooms. Most incidents involved young tourists, especially from Italy and Britain, who often come to Amsterdam because of its reputation for easily available drugs.
'Magic' mushrooms are sold at 180 so-called smart shops in the Netherlands. Paul van Oyen of the association which represents these shops, expects half of them will have to close down because of the ban. "There are 40 smart shops in the centre of Amsterdam that cause problems and the entire branch is the victim," Van Oyen said.
In a statement last year the Dutch health ministry said the "unpredictable character of mushrooms" was the deciding factor for the outright ban. "Hallucinogenic mushrooms have been proved to cause dangerous results, sometimes with fatal results," a ministry spokesperson said. Health minister Ab Klink (Christian Democrats) has to implement a ban from next month.
The ban comes at a time of political and social debate on the Dutch policy of tolerating soft drugs such as cannabis and mushrooms. This weekend the parliamentary leader of the Christian Democrats Pieter van Geel called for a complete ban on cafes where marijuana is sold.