News of: Friday, November 21 2008,

Amsterdam to close 43 coffeeshops

Amsterdam has announced it plans to close 43 coffeeshops, of the more than 228 there are now.

The coffeeshops (where soft drugs can be bought without fear of prosecution by the police) are within 250 meter of a school, and therefore have to close.
They have to close by the end of 2011.

The measure is part of a national policy, so Amsterdam has to follow. Mayor Job Cohen said that he does not agree, but has no choice.

Amsterdam has only taken high schools into consideration. If the measure would be applied to primary schools too, practically all coffeeshops would have to close, and Amsterdam fears that trading would then move to the streets.

About 140 of the 228 Amsterdam coffeeshops are in the centre, and mainly cater to tourists.
With 228 coffeeshops, Amsterdam has about a quarter of all coffeeshops in the Netherlands, and can be considered the marihuana capital of the world.

The current soft drugs policy in the Netherlands is under increasing pressure, as more and more towns want to limit the number of coffeeshops or want to close them all. Particularly towns in border areas, close to Belgium and Germany, complain that the coffeeshops attract a lot of foreign tourists. This apparently causes problems in the neighbourhood.

One of the coffeeshops in Amsterdam that has to close is the Bulldog at Leidseplein square, one of the biggest and most well-known coffeeshops in town. Just around the corner is the Barlaeus Gymnasium, a well-known and prestigious high school.

Coffeeshop owners say that the measure is exaggerated. They say they never admit children, because if they get caught with teen-agers, the coffeeshop is closed down immediately.