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Dutch government outlaws high potency marijuana – Amsterdam tourists to be banned from buying weed

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spliffAMSTERDAM'S claim to be the laid back drugs capital of Europe was under threat today as the Dutch government launched a crackdown on high strength weed.

Officials will move to classify high-potency marijuana alongside hard drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, the latest step in the country's ongoing reversal of its famed tolerance policies.

The decision means most of the cannabis now sold in the Netherlands' weed cafes would have to be replaced by milder variants.

But sceptics said the move would be difficult to enforce, and that it could simply lead many users to smoke more of the less potent weed.

Possession of marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but police do not prosecute people for possession of small amounts, and it is sold openly in designated cafes. Growers are routinely prosecuted if caught.

Economic Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen said weed containing more than 15 per cent of its main active chemical, THC, is so much stronger than what was common a generation ago that it should be considered a different drug entirely.

He told a press conference in The Hague that high potency weed has "played a role in increasing public health damage.''

The Dutch Justice Ministry says it will be up to cafes to regulate their own products and police will seize random samples for testing.

Gerrit-Jan ten Bloomendal, spokesman for the Platform of Cannabis Businesses in the Netherlands, said implementing the plan would be difficult "if not impossible''.

"How are we going to know whether a given batch exceeds 15 per cent THC? For that matter, how would health inspectors know?'' he said.

He also predicted a black market will develop for highly potent weed.

The ongoing Dutch crackdown on marijuana is part of a decade-long rethink of liberalism in general that has seen a third of the windows in Amsterdam's famed prostitution district shuttered and led the Netherlands to adopt some of the toughest immigration rules in Europe.

The number of licensed marijuana cafes has been reduced, and earlier this year the Government announced plans to ban tourists from buying weed.

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