Amsterdam opposes pot-shop law
A Spanish tourist smokes a joint in front of the Bulldog coffee shop in the red light district of Amsterdam. Under a plan called Coalitions Project 2012, unveiled on December 6, 2008 by the city council, Amsterdam plans to halve the number of prostitution windows and cannabis-vending coffee shops in a revamp of its historic center aimed at curbing rising crime. Prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in 2000. (Anoek de Groot/AFP/Getty Images)
The Dutch Cabinet late last month said the measure was needed to "reduce nuisance and drugs tourism," arguing that "substance use of minors has to be countered more strongly and that coffee shops have grown into large points of sale of cannabis that are hard to manage."
Known as the "Weed Pass," the measure will turn coffee shops into private clubs for Dutch citizens older than 18.
"Persons who do not hold Dutch citizenship will not have access to the coffee shops," the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice said in a statement.
The government said the measure also is needed to crack down on drug trafficking near the borders with Germany and Belgium.
Under the current plan, the measure will go into effect this year in the southern part of the country and the rest of the country in 2012.
The city of Amsterdam, including its mayor, has vowed to fight the measure.
"The Dutch government has decided upon this for the whole of the Netherlands. Amsterdam doesn't want it," said Machteld Ligtvoet, a spokeswoman for the Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board.
The Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board says the new measure should be dismissed because it discriminates against foreigners. The board also says it fears "soft drugs will be sold on the street again."