In April, the Mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, proposed a ban on the city’s coffeeshops for all non-residents via the so-called i-Criterion. Now, the city council has rejected the proposal. However, while the tourist ban has been rejected, for now, new recommendations have also been tabled. Additionally, the mayor stated that she has no intention of dropping the i-Criterion issue any time soon.
Amsterdam’s Coffeeshops Will Continue Welcoming Tourists
In April, we reported on a plan by the Mayor of Amsterdam to ban tourists from the city’s famed coffeeshops. The proposal would have seen the introduction of the so-called i-Criterion, or Criterion I, requiring coffeeshop visitors to show proof of residency.
Unsurprisingly, the Amsterdam City Council has now rejected the proposal. However, the rejection of the i-Criterion has also come with new recommendations.
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Amsterdam City Council Says No to Criterion I
The Amsterdam City Council voted last week in the General Affairs Committee against the introduction of Criterion I. As such, they voted down the ban on coffeeshops for tourists, which current Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema had dreamed up.
Most political groups, including the left-wing coalition PvdA, GroenLinks, and D66, opposed the introduction of the Residency Criterion and thus the ban on coffeeshops for tourists.
“We expect a massive shift to street trade. We think it is not wise to opt for millions of illegal drug transactions,” said Rob Hofland (D66), who spoke out against the plan.
New Recommendations for Amsterdam
While rejecting Criterion I, Rob Hofland also proposed a strict control framework:
“We could ask to inspect the books. For coffeeshops that refuse, we can monitor them more strictly. Coffeeshops that participate, we can give them benefits, like having a larger inventory.”
The committee also discussed other proposals, such as banning consumption in the streets and intervening in places where there is an overconcentration of coffeeshops.
So the Council asked that these proposals, as well as those of the coffeeshop industry, be considered.
Mayor Halsema Responds
In response to the proposals and the rejected plan, Femke Halsema explained to the Council that she wanted to reduce the demand for cannabis in the city.
“None of your proposals reduce that demand,” the mayor said. “The solutions you are proposing do not relate to the problem we are identifying. We shouldn’t have unreasonable expectations about banning street consumption.”
She continued, “There is so much money in this market that it is attractive for big crime to invest in.”
Halsema also criticized opponents of her plan. “You are relying solely on your intuition. Our studies show that the number of tourists, who come to the city to consume, will decrease, and they will also come less often.”
The mayor cautioned against closing cafes. “You don’t just do that. Suppose you reduce the number of cafes, without doing anything about the number of people who buy there, the turnover of a small number of cafes increases. It’s easier to do something about favoritism.”
The Return of the “i-Criterion” for Amsterdam?
Now that there is no majority, the Criterion I issue should theoretically be dropped. Mayor Halsema, however, wants to keep it in mind.
“No hard feelings, but it’s simmering. We’re letting Criterion I simmer in your heads,” she said.
Reacting to the AT5 article, Simone van Breda, president of the coffeeshop union, wrote on LinkedIn: “I think the article is slightly premature. But we are cautiously positive. It still has to go to the Council, but there is no majority in the Council for Criterion I so far.”
The municipality, accompanied by the police and the Amsterdam public prosecutor, will now draft a letter to respond to the city council’s proposals and the coffeeshop industry.
(Featured image by Tom Jutte (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via Flickr)
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