Under pressure from local politicians as well as international anti-drug agencies, the marijuana-fuelled coffee house drug culture in the Netherlands may be on the wane.
Some Dutch observers believe that the coffee shops could disappear within the next five years, and numbers have already declined from 1,500 to about 750. The current Dutch government and city mayors have taken a more conservative approach to drug use, and the nation is under pressure from other European Union members to curb drug tourism.
The government reportedly has told the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) that it will also take steps to curb street dealing, marijuana cultivation, and the coffee shops, the latter of which are cited for discrediting the country’s antidrug policies.
“There has been a crucial and significant change in the Dutch cannabis policy,” said INCB head Hamid Ghodse. “They now say for the first time that cannabis is not harmless and that coffee shops are not blameless.”
In the province of Limburg, foreigners have been banned from buying drugs in coffee shops. A ban on potent strains of marijuana also is being considered.
“The changes have been brought about by the influence of the Yankees [the United States], Brussels and the EU,” said Dutch government drug-policy advisor August de Loor. “The Dutch approach is usually very pragmatic. But in the past four years things have started to change and there is a more conservative approach. The control of coffee shops has become much more strict. The police are checking up on them more and there is much more strict interpretation of the rules. More and more mayors are banning coffee shops from their cities. I think in four or five years’ time there will be no more coffee shops left in Holland.”