HomeTravelPopular European city unveils controversial plan to sell cocaine in pharmacies

Popular European city unveils controversial plan to sell cocaine in pharmacies


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Pharmacists in Amsterdam could one day be selling cocaine and other hard party drugs, according to the mayor of the Dutch capital.

The controversial proposal has raised eyebrows in Amsterdam, which has long had a reputation for drug and sex tourism.

The Dutch capital, which is one of the most popular city-breaks in Europe, is known globally for its tolerance towards soft drugs like cannabis and its lively tourism sector.

Femke Halsema, who recently won re-election for a second six-year term, told the AFP that one day “you could imagine getting cocaine at pharmacies or via a medical system”.

She said that regulation of hard drugs was the only way to tackle the “disastrous” impact of drug trafficking in her city.

Ms Halsema complained that 80 percent of police time in Amsterdam was devoted to the “war on drugs”.

She said new ideas were needed, adding: “I think that some drugs are dangerous, and I also think it is wise to reduce drug use. But I also notice that the way we do this does not help. We need to think of better ways to regulate drugs.

“Is it not ridiculous that we leave drug trafficking to criminals and we do not try to find a way to have a civilised market?”

Earlier this year, Ms Halsema invited mayors and experts from around the world to a conference in Amsterdam to discuss “how and not whether” cities should regulate drugs.

The city remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, with around 20 million visitors each year.

While many British tourists visit Amsterdam to admire its canals or cultural highlights, it remains a popular stag party destination for many Brits.

Many party-loving tourists are attracted by the city’s late-night club scene, cannabis coffee shops and red light district.

It is unclear how the Amsterdam mayor’s stance will align with the Dutch government’s “digital discouragement campaign” launched in March 2023, which aims to deter people from using the capital for weekends of sex and drug tourism.

In 2023, cocaine seizures in the Netherlands rose with Dutch customs authorities seizing nearly 60 metric tonnes of cocaine – up from 51 tonnes in 2022.

The largest quantities were found in the ports of Rotterdam and Vlissingen.

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