Dutch cannabis coffee shops begin closing doors to tourists


One of the Netherlands' many licensed coffee shops, which will soon have to close its doors to everyone except residents carrying 'weed passes'.



The Netherlands has begun rolling-out restrictions on the sale of cannabis to foreigners, as part of attempts to deter drug tourism.

Dutch News reports that from today, anyone wanting to buy hashish and marijuana from the country's licensed coffee shops will have to register for a special membership card called a 'weed pass' or 'wietpas'.  The card will only be available to residents of the Netherlands.

The news service says that cannabis cafes in the provinces of Zeeland, Brabant and Limburg have already responded and closed their doors to tourists.

Last week, a court in The Hague upheld the Dutch government's plans to restrict sales of soft drugs, The Independent explains.  The sale and consumption of small quantitites of cannabis had been tolerated since 1976, under a policy to quash the hard drugs trade.

AFP says that the new rules will be rolled out nationwide from next year.

It says that no more than 2,000 Dutch residents over the age 18 will get the wietpas, and coffee shop owners have complained that the ban on foreigners will cut into profits with some saying they intend to break the law.

However, it adds that many local residents have welcomed the change.