While I have extolled the virtues of Amsterdam as a wholesome Las Vegas, the people of Holland have spoken. They are sick of seedy tourism and are ready to turn in their medal as Europe’s place to party. The Dutch have gotten the reputation of being very liberal but all this free love and open your mind business has gotten to them.
The first step was refusing to give out new licenses to coffeeshops. Existing coffeeshops were untouched but their owners have seen a decline in business so many of them have turned from brownie baking to beer tapping.
The next step was to forbid anyone besides a Dutch citizen to patronize a coffeeshop. A far cry from the attitude I met on my first trip to Amsterdam where a young Bob Marley picked us up at the airport and proceeded to profess the wonders of the weed to us, all while squealing around the streets on the way to our hotel. Exuberant taxi drivers aside, we have never met a Dutch person who was proud of this little oddity in their legal system. The new system will require Dutch cannabis users to register for a “weed pass” to gain access to coffeeshops. The city of Amsterdam is generally against this new law which is being forced through by the conservatives in parliament later this year.
In this economic climate it is a bold move of Holland to just say no to tourist money.
The third step is deconstructing The Red Light District. Since the late 1300 hundreds prostitutes have been working behind the glass legally and paying taxes. But things have gotten out of hand and the whole place is getting cleaned up. They will be closing Wallen between 04:00 to 08:00. All the ladies dancing in the window need to prove to the city council that they want to be there. The legal age for prostitutes rose from 18 to 23. This effort is a tremendous step towards reducing human trafficking. Let’s just hope it doesn’t move underground, as is the case in the rest of the world. Where the Erotic Discount Market will move, no one knows. Maybe it will have to change its name to something more discreet.
Personally, I am hoping that they will continue with what the US and Norway have looked to as a forward thinking drug distribution /rehabilitation system. Which is providing stat registered addicts with their fix and therefore cutting out the middle man. This policy protects innocent bystanders who might otherwise been affected by drug trade or its repercussions. Probably one of the most compelling reasons that Amsterdam maintains its low crime statistics.