Following the news that a Dutch court upheld the decision to ban tourists from buying marijuana in the Netherlands, a councillor of the United Kingdom's Green Party has suggested that Brighton be "the new Amsterdam" of Europe.
Ben Duncan, the Home Affairs speaker of the UK's Green Party says that licensing cannabis shops in Brighton would boost tourism, according to The Telegraph.
"Cannabis use can be harmful, but all analysis shows that it's much less likely to harm you than, say, driving a car, or crossing a road," says Duncan. “So what about it? Brighton, the liberal, tolerant, tourist capital of Europe?”
Duncan says that the current drug policy sees cannabis as a criminal problem and not a health issue.
The decision in the Netherlands, which was fought by the "coffee shops" themselves, was ruled Friday to not be discriminatory against foreigners. As of May 1, tourists will no longer be able to buy marijuana within the country's southern provinces, with the law rolling over to the rest of the country by next year. Even in Amsterdam, a city known for tourists from around the world sampling the country's offerings, will be forced to turn away tourists from their coffee shops.
Those Dutch coffee shops will now be turned into private clubs, which will have a 2,000-member limit. As well, Dutch residents will be required to purchase a "wiet pass" for those clubs.
The law was defended as a solution - not for actual tourists looking for a wild night in Amsterdam - but for what they call "drug tourists", people coming across the border primarily from Belgium and Germany to buy large quantities of marijuana back in their own country. Lawyers representing the coffee shops argued that discriminating against all tourists was not the answer, and warn that a large chunk of tourism will end up elsewhere.
Ben Duncan wonders if licensing marijuana shops in Brighton would bring more business to his home seafront, which already is a popular tourist destination. “Think of all the millions our shops and hotels would make if all those tourists being turned away from Amsterdam by the Dutch Tories came here to spend their holiday cash instead," said Duncan.
Currently, Brighton is in the top 10 UK destinations for foreign tourists.