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Amsterdam shops to continue selling pot

Nov. 1, 2012 at 5:39 PM

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan says he is against preventing the city's 220 coffee shops from selling marijuana and hashish to customers.

The coffee shops will remain open next year, despite a new Dutch law meant to reduce drug tourism by banning the sale of marijuana and hashish, The New York Times reported.

"The 1.5 million tourists will not say, 'Then no more marijuana,'" van der Laan said in an interview published by De Volkskrant Thursday. "They will swarm all over the city looking for drugs. This would lead to more robberies, quarrels about fake drugs, and no control of the quality of drugs on the market. Everything we have worked toward would be lost to misery."

Van der Laan's office said he had assured the government "criminality and related problems around coffee shops will be strongly addressed and that marijuana use among young people will be further countered."

Sentina van der Meer, a spokeswoman for the Dutch Justice Ministry, quoted a ministry statement saying, "Changes to the new policy have not been finalized."

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