Coffee shops in the Netherlands
Amsterdam is being forced to close 43 of its 228 cannabis-selling cafes to meet national regulations, Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen announced at the presentation of a memorandum on the city's drugs policy.
The cafes, known as coffee shops, have to be closed down by the end of 2011 because they are less than 250 meters from a secondary school. The city currently has some 228 outlets selling marijuana under licence.
One of those set to vanish from Amsterdam is the famous Bulldog cafe on the city’s Leidseplein which is housed in a former police station and was opened over twenty years ago. It is too close to the city's prestigious Barlaeus high school.
Like the majority of mayors in towns where coffee shops sell cannabis, Cohen is happy with the existing policy on soft drugs but would like to see regulation of the whole cannabis trade. "I want an equal policy for soft drugs and alcohol," Cohen said.
Around 25 percent of tourists coming to Amsterdam visit a cannabis cafe, Cohen said. But these tourists cause much less of a nuisance than foreigners who drink alcohol, according to the mayor.
Cohen says too that the Netherlands should not be afraid of the reaction of other countries to its tolerant policy on soft drugs. Cohen: "Research shows that young people in Amsterdam don't use more soft drugs than their peers in France, which has a repressive drug policy."