As an Amsterdam native, Iâ€™ve been known to enjoy a smoke now and then, however things in my city are changing. For example, the smoking ban, red-light district downsizing, coffee shops closingâ€¦and I can only think, â€˜Why?â€™
I donâ€™t smoke tobacco, I donâ€™t visit the red-light district and I donâ€™t like hanging in coffee shops but I like to know that they are there if I ever feel the need to visit them. That is more my point. That is what makes Amsterdam. Not to mention the millions of tourists visiting Amsterdam for these reasons.
But before I, along with a lot of Amsterdam natives, start getting angry, let me break down our concerns:
â€¢ A new bill called Het Amsterdamse coffeeshopbeleid 2008 proposes to close down coffee shops (places where you can buy and smoke weed for those who donâ€™t know) that are within 250 meter of a high school and not primary schools. Of the cityâ€™s 228 coffee shops, 43 will be closed by 2011 based on this ruling.
â€¢ Meanwhile, Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen, is joining the Weed top (a group of 30 mayors) that will discuss the matter of government-controlled weed plantations, (since growing pot is illegal while selling and smoking is not) to stock coffee shop. This, so they say, to eliminate growing in the criminal circuit.
Then you have the other problems that are occurring since the smoking ban:
â€¢ You canâ€™t smoke tobacco in cafÃ©s and coffee shops but you can smoke pure weed /hasj. Donâ€™t ask.
â€¢ You can smoke pure weed/hasj in cafÃ©â€™s but cafÃ©â€™s canâ€™t have heated sections outside for people who smoke tobacco. Donâ€™t ask again.
What bothers me and most of my Amsterdam counterparts? Most of changes are not very well thought out. Politicians CDA Party Leader Van Geel and Joan de Wijkerslooth Head of Openbaar Ministery are running around giving statements seemingly without a clue of the repercussions for the city. CafÃ©s are already having trouble with making a living. And now with the Redlight downsizing and Coffeeshops closing this means less tourist and less income for Amsterdam. Which will of course translate into more taxes for us.
It is hard for Amsterdammers to follow rules anyway- let alone rules and ideas that donâ€™t seem to be logical. Cafes are already ignoring the Smoking ban openly with the risk of being shut down permanently.
Even our Mayor Job Cohen, mentioned in December, that he also thinks that closing down so many Coffeeshops and not re-spreading them around Amsterdam is an unrealistic and harsch rule, but that Amsterdam and Holland are in a difficult position amidst The Tweede Kamer and The European Union. He stated that he will see if there is a possibility to come up with a new measurement which will not close down so many coffee shops but he is awaiting more information on the general ruling from the Dutch Government on this matter.
So for now, Amsterdam can keep smoking, until the next time a politician feels the need for attention.
Groetjes From Damsko (Greetings from Amsterdam)
-Poema Jones –
MAD(E) in Amsterdam: Poema Jones brings you Amsterdam from a colorful perspective. She will be reporting on anything that takes her fancy, from fashion to politics and even love. She owns her own accessories and clothing label and in her free time she enjoys strolling the streets of Amsterdam while taking pictures, going to exhibitions, socializing and having drinks in her favorite cafÃ©, Harlem Soulfood. Being somewhat of a foodie, she also enjoys cooking and trying out new restaurants. Enjoy!