latest step by the Dutch authorities to ban tourists from the country's cannabis-smoking coffee shops reminded me of my own night out in one such establishment in Amsterdam.The
It's a good while ago now but I was already the oldest member of an overnight Press trip to Amsterdam. I can't remember the purpose of the visit but I do recall the British hacks didn't behave very well.
An early start was required the next morning so we were wined and dined at our hotel and expected to head for our rooms. Of course, as soon as our gracious hosts departed, we hit the town.
I found myself heading into the night with three other reporters in search of a coffee shop, which took only a few minutes to discover.
I wasn't the instigator of this quest but I felt grateful to have been included in the party - two men and a woman - all considerably younger than myself.
At the coffee shop bar the trio selected the mildest spliff and took it off to a corner to share. I stayed at the bar, had a beer, and chatted to the manager. It was a quiet night.
He took me through the menu - the joints that could be safely smoked in the coffee shop and that which was better to take laying down. All were certified in typical Dutch thoroughness.
Without being certain of the strength and purity of the dope, smokers in the UK are not only breaking the law they risk their health - and maybe sanity with regular use.
And of my three newly acquired companions? They were totally stoned on a third of a joint; or so they convinced themselves such is the power of self-suggestion.
I shepherded them back to hotel rolling and laughing down the street. They missed breakfast.
The museums and canals will still be there but a visit to Amsterdam won't be quite the same if foreigners can't get a little high in a coffee shop.