Amsterdam is phasing out a number of its coffee-shops, choosing education over a controversial business that has been a major tourist draw. The City Council said on Friday that it is taking into consideration the owners of 31 shops that have to close because they are in too close proximity to schools. “We are not forcing them to close all at once; we’re giving the owners an opportunity to start different businesses,” the council said.
The city has some 200 coffee shops, where the use of soft drugs like marijuana and hash is tolerated. By 2016 the City Council wants this number dropped to 160. The Council said it is phasing the process, to prevent an overload of visitors and nuisance at the shops that will be allowed to stay open.
Ganja (DEA wikimedia photo)As of January next year the first 31 that are too close to schools in the city have to adjust their opening hours; on weekdays they may only open at night, to counter the use of soft drugs among school children.
Then, in July the city will close the ten shops that students can actually see from their schools. In January 2015, four more will be closed that are in 150 meter walking distance from schools. The remaining seven will close within a year after that.
Coffee shops, not to be confused with cafés, have been a part of Amsterdam since the 1970s, when the Dutch government made a clear distinction in the law between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ drugs, says the city’s tourist info website. The City Council allows the shops to operate with the provision of set, non-transferable licenses – shown by the display of an official, green and white sticker in the window.