The Dutch government has abandoned plans to force the country’s famous cannabis cafes to close their doors due to coronavirus fears.
Marijuana users queued around the block in various cities on Sunday in an effort to stockpile enough cannabis to see them through a lengthy lockdown. It came after the government ruled that the coffee shops would need to cease operations in order to help contain the rampaging coronavirus.
There have been more than 1,700 cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, in the Netherlands, and at least 43 deaths. Prime Minister Mark Rutte has ushered in a period of “maximum control” in a bid to reduce the peak in infections and staggering those infections over a longer period.
One casualty of the policy was the famous coffee shops. Marijuana is technically illegal for recreational purposes in the Netherlands, but the authorities turn a blind eye to it, and illicit suppliers are allowed to wholesale cannabis to these coffee shops.
The Dutch government then decided to revise its quarantine measures on Monday night. It feared that closing all the cannabis cafes would lead to a spike in cannabis sales on the streets, and they began opening again.
However, consumers will not be allowed to linger and enjoy cannabis on the premises. They must buy it at the café and then take it home with them.
Cities like Amsterdam receive a large volume of cannabis tourists, particularly from Britain. It has now reached a stage where the Dutch capital is considering a ban on cannabis tourism in order to reduce the city’s reliance on that type of visitor.
However, tourist numbers have now fallen off a cliff anyway, as European countries shut down their borders and urge citizens to isolate themselves while the authorities try to get a handle on the coronavirus outbreak.
There are now around 200,000 confirmed cases in the world and the death toll is nearing 8,000. The World Health Organization has called Europe the new centre of the pandemic.
Cannabis stores in other countries like Canada have also experienced a high volume of demand this week as consumers stock up in anticipation of extended quarantines.
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