Pubdate: Thu, 15 Aug 2013
Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland)
Copyright: 2013 The Irish Times
Author: Peter Cluskey
Page: 9


Police in Amsterdam, where "soft" drugs can be purchased legally in
more than 200 "coffee shops", have urged the city authorities to do
more to prevent young foreign tourists jumping from hotel windows and
being seriously injured or killed.

It's the first time the police have raised the issue with City Hall,
and it follows a spate of incidents this summer in which tourists
under the influence of various types of drugs have been jumping from
windows and balconies at the rate of more than one a month.

The most recent incident was less than a fortnight ago when a Swiss
man (22) was seriously hurt when he leapt from the window of his room
at a hotel on Kloveniersburgwal. He has since been flown home to
Switzerland for treatment.

In July, a tourist who according to his friends was under the
influence of psychedelic mushrooms, died in a fall from his hotel on
Marnixstraat in the Jordaan area. In May and June two more visitors
died in similar circumstances.

In several cases, passersby have been injured by the "jumpers" sometimes 
seriously. In the most high-profile case, an Australian who
jumped from a high window on busy Kerkstraat landed on a passing
Brazilian student who was left paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair
for life.

The Australian subsequently recovered, but was sentenced to three
months in jail and ordered to pay 120,000 in compensation to his victim.

"The drugs sold in coffee shops in Amsterdam are relatively mild by
some standards, but people who are not used to them and don't know
when to stop can get into real trouble", said a police spokeswoman.
"And even mild drugs can cause psychotic episodes in some cases."

Modern hotels in central Amsterdam tend to have windows that are
sealed or which only partially open. However, older buildings housing
budget-price hostels tend to be less well protected, and these may now
come under scrutiny.

The government brought in a new restriction in 2011 under which
cannabis sold in legal coffee shops cannot contain more than 15 per
cent of its active ingredient, THC. But even at 15 per cent THC, Dutch
cannabis is considerably stronger than its overseas equivalent, so
visitors who binge can get into serious difficulties.
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