Amsterdam to ban tourists buying cannabis

Foreign tourists smoking ganja in Amsterdam is soon to be a thing of the past as they are banned.
Amsterdam has been associated with recreational weed smoking for decades. Photo credit: Getty

The iconic cannabis cafes of Amsterdam will soon be closed to foreign tourists, if the Dutch capital's mayor gets their way.

The proposal to further clean up the city's image follows last year's banning of guided tours of the city's infamous red light district. 

Mayor Femke Halsema's plan is backed by police and prosecutors and hopes to discourage organised crime and reduce tourist numbers.

"Amsterdam is an international city and we wish to attract tourists - but for its richness, its beauty and its cultural institutions. The problem is there are just too many of them," said Halsema.

"The cannabis market is too big and overheated. I want to shrink the cannabis market and make it manageable."

Cannabis is still illegal in the Netherlands, but possessing less than 5g was decriminalised in 1976, which means coffee shops are allowed to sell it to patrons.

Amsterdam's population sits at around 850,000 residents yet the number of international tourists it receives annually has surged up to 20 million. Many are said to arrive on cheap flights with limited budgets.

While tourism does help the economy, the overcrowding and nuisance problems it creates are becoming too much for some locals.

Banning foreign tourists from buying cannabis in the city comes after previous efforts such as raising tourist taxes and imposing tougher sanctions on Airbnb owners.