Amsterdam is shutting down almost a fifth of its renowned marijuana cafes because they are too close to schools. Officially, the central government has ordered a 500-metre exclusion zone, but as that would include virtually all of Amsterdam’s so-called “coffee-shops,” the city council amended the figure. The city’s mayor, Job Cohen, said: “Coffee-shops within 250-metres walk of a secondary school will not be able to operate from the end of 2011.”
There are 228 coffee-shops in Amsterdam which is a quarter of the total in the Netherlands. 43 of them will now be closed. But the mayor is not a big fan of the new rules. He told Dutch radio that coffee-shops did not pose a problem. And there is also a fear that as doors close on the coffee-shops, they open for illegal drug dealers. The Dutch policy of tolerating soft-drugs has proved a potent draw for tourists, who make an important contribution to local economies.