Continental cafe culture is often admired by the authorities in the UK but the cannabis cafes of the Netherlands are a whole different ball game. Citizens of the UK visiting Holland for instance often visit such cafes to partake of the goods on sale. Now foreigners face a blanket ban.
Problems have arisen as some tourists visit to seriously deal in drugs and take more than a souvenir home with them. In May the law on foreigners visiting cannabis cafes is set to change. By the end of 2012 all of the cafes will be affected.
The owners of course view the changes as damaging to their trade. However a recent legal challenge in The Hague has failed. Once the change in the law is implemented users of the Cannabis Cafes will need to be able to provide the necessary paperwork if they want to pop in for a "joint".
Believe it or not the government is looking at creating some sort of "weed pass" which will be available for nationals.
There are around 700 "coffee shops" in the Netherlands which are really cannabis shops. Although the drug has been decriminalised it is still not in truth legal. Possession of up to 5 grams of cannabis tends to go unheeded by police.
One of the cafe owners told the BBC that, "It is going to cost me 90% of my turnover. That is a very good reason for anyone to oppose any plan. Second it puts our customers in a very difficult spot, because why do you have to register to buy a substance that is still illegal?
It seems that he has a point. The owners are lodging an appeal against the proposed changes.
If you want to pay a visit before the ban is in place you can find a directory of the "coffee shops" HERE
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog