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Cannabis cafe tourist ban can go ahead, says supreme court

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Maastricht's mayor was wrong in 2006 when he closed down a cannabis cafe which had sold soft drugs to tourists because he used inappropriate legal grounds, the Council of State said on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, there are sufficient legal grounds to allow the cabinet to press ahead with its plans to ban tourists from the country's 500 cannabis cafes, known as coffee shops, the supreme court said.

The mayor had based his decision on a local bylaw imposing a residence requirement on coffee shop visitors, rather than the Opium Act, the court said.

However, 'the judgment does not mean the mayor has no further statutory scope for taking measures against coffee shops that he believes cause nuisance problems,' the court said in a statement. 'Under the Opium Act itself, the mayor may impose an enforcement order against coffee shops selling narcotics.'

Member-only clubs

In an initial reaction, the justice ministry said the ruling clears the way for the government to turn coffee shops into member-only clubs open only to people who officially live in the Netherlands.

It is clear that European law allows foreigners to be excluded from coffee shops, but this will have to be implemented via a different legal mechanism which 'will be solved quickly', the spokesman told news agency ANP.

In December, the European Court of Justice said Maastricht is not breaking European law by attempting to stop non-residents buying soft drugs. Restricting sales is 'justified by the objective of combatting drug tourism' and reducing public nuisance and the aim of the restriction is to maintain public order and protect public health, the court said.

At the moment, the authorities turn a blind eye to the sale of small quantities of hashish and marijuana in licenced cafes. Coffee shops have become a popular tourist attraction, particularly in Amsterdam and border towns such as Maastricht.

Earlier stories
Cannabis cafes set to become member only clubs, no access for tourists
EU clears the way for tourist ban from cannabis cafes

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

This going to bring back more criminality in the streets and there will be 70% less tourism in Amsterdam.....im not a smoker so i dont care much but the results will be very negative i guess....

By plasmo | 29 June 2011 3:38 PM

"European law by attempting to stop non-residents buying soft drugs."
The EU has no jurisdiction on this matter. It is down to Rutter sucking up To the EU and hoping to become favorable for future business. If the people want something badly enough, they will obtain it with or without permission. Tourists in the future will go to even less trouble to buy soft drugs: it will no longer be necessary to visit a coffee shop. They will be confronted in the vicinity of a coffee shop and given info, the guv will lose out on revenue, the tourist will be catered for. The same idiotic laws apply to Christian Sunday shopping, no matter how illogical!

By The visitor | 29 June 2011 7:14 PM

The Dutch Government/NS make foreign rail passengers in the Netherlands pay 40% more for off-peak travel by disallowing the "voordeeluren" function on the OV-Chipkaart of those passengers without a Dutch Bank account. They should consistently apply these discriminatory pricing practices to the coffee shop membership cards by making the"korting" available only to Dutch Bank Account Holders whilst exploiting foreign weed-smokers who choose to visit. At least this way, the Dutch Govt. can keep/increase its revenue from this lucrative business - or do the Dutch no longer have love of money?

By ChekIN-ChekOUT | 29 June 2011 9:12 PM

Looking forward to some fun reactions after sending this to a few people outside Holland. What the supreme court said is about as clear as mud! Welcome to Holland...

By Quest | 30 June 2011 1:43 AM

has anyone considered the effect a ban on tourists use of "coffee shops" will have on the tourist trade ?

ps if you reserve the right to edit or shorten my comment please state that you have done so and that i am not the author of the edited version.

By one off comment | 30 June 2011 10:08 AM

Maastricht doesn't rely on coffee shops for it's tourism. Nor does any of the other border towns.

By pepe C | 1 July 2011 12:32 PM

Well, as a tourist who has enjoyed Amsterdam and the Dutch countryside over the last four years. It saddens me to see this move to the far right on social issues. I think all tourists who are affected by the ban in coffeeshops should join together and boycott all Dutch exports. Shell oil,Philips electronics,Dutch breweries and other alchol producers, all Dutch produce and cheese, and anything else from the Netherlands. If my presence and the thousands of euros my wife and myself spend on accomadations, KLM tickets food , beverages and enterainment(which includes the coffeeshop scene)then I can spend this somewhere else.Anyone who feels this way join in the boycott. Regrets from a sadden tourist.

By Paulbob | 4 July 2011 6:07 PM

I dont think it will happen. It's too much of a stupid move. The rest of the world is finally starting to accept the "soft" drug meaning and the Netherlands after 40 years decides that it's going to go stricter??

By Consumer | 4 July 2011 10:48 PM

How sad. We've been coming to the Netherlands for about 15 years now, almost every year, and the coffee shops are a big part of the experience that we enjoy. Doubt we'll continue to vacation there if these laws go into effect. I wonder if they really know how much they stand to lose in tourist dollars. Maybe it'll even be decriminalized in the US by the time this happens. Never thought I'd live to see that!

By Mrs. B | 4 July 2011 10:58 PM

I only really come to amsterdam because I can smoke legally. I eat out go to museums and enjoy the cities hospitality. I can do these things at home cheaper

Think about what is the countires USP, tulips and cloggs? Guess again. Can they really afford to burn all of that tourist money in a recession. Good luck in your ghost town of amsterdam come 2012

By J | 14 July 2011 1:16 PM

Kids! - don't worry, this is never ever gonna work, trust me ;) waste of time and tax money, and once the hotels, bars, etc. feel the pain of the missed tourist euros all will be well again

By Bill | 14 July 2011 4:04 PM

I've always admired the dutch way of life. I'm a frequent visitor from the UK, and have travelled your beautiful flat country severeal times. Living in a country where cannabis is illegal, i can assure you your policy is the most effective, however, not solely due to the tourism it brings. Cannabis is not difficult to come across in the UK, should i wish, i could more than likely have 3 or 4 people deliver it to my doorstep within 30 mins. There is no stopping it. Your policy means its better policed, your children are better educated about it and you make tax from it. And it stops the huge untaxed profit of gangs.

By Nick Ramsdale | 14 July 2011 5:53 PM

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