Las autoridades holandesas han estado presionando a los coffeeshops, al prohibir que los que están situados en ciudades fronterizas vendan a los turistas y forzar el cierre de aquellos que se encuentran cerca de centros escolares.

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ON DECEMBER 31st the world’s oldest coffeeshop, Mellow Yellow, in Amsterdam, was forced to roll down its bright yellow shutters one last time. Over the past half-century, many a foreigner has smoked their first spliff at this cosy cafe, which sat perfectly on the route between two tourist favourites, the Heineken Brewery and Rembrandt Square. Mellow Yellow is the latest in a string of Amsterdam coffeeshop closures, a development that is worrying health workers, law enforcement officials and potheads equally because it may push drugs back onto the street. The number of coffeeshops in the Dutch capital has fallen by half since 1995, from 350 to just 167. Why are so many Amsterdam coffeeshops closing?

To most outsiders, the Netherlands is synonymous with liberal, legalised vice, with Amsterdam the main port of call. Roughly one in four tourists to Amsterdam intends to visit a coffeeshop, according to the city’s tourism bureau (in 2016 Amsterdam received 17m tourists, up from 12m in 2012). Holland’s soft drug policy has always been one of “tolerating” rather than legalising. As Vincent explains in “Pulp Fiction”, “It’s legal to buy it, it’s legal to own it and if you’re the proprietor of a hash bar, it’s legal to sell it.” Central to making this construction work is a system of small, tightly regulated coffeeshops, where people can legally buy and smoke cannabis—and which the authorities can keep an eye on. Few officials in liberal Amsterdam want to get rid of coffeeshops altogether; they are thought to help keep soft drugs out of the criminal circuit. But in more conservative parts of the country, including the political capital, The Hague, resistance to the policy of looking the other way has grown.

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