Dutch cannabis café owners can refuse to sell soft drugs to foreign nationals because this does not conflict with European legislation on discrimination, the Dutch Supreme Court said on Tuesday.
The ruling relates to a 2010 case in Maastricht when the government introduced a new law banning a cannabis café from selling to tourists.
The Supreme Court referred to a European Court of Justice ruling in 2010 in which judges said restricting sales to non-residents is ‘justified by the objective of combating drug tourism’ and reducing public nuisance.
A cannabis café doorman had been prosecuted for allowing tourists to buy drugs on the premises.
However, the Supreme Court judges said they were not convinced the doorman had made a ‘crucial contribution’ to the illegal sale of soft drugs to non-residents and ordered the lower court to review the case again.
It is unclear what affect the ban on coffee shops selling to non-residents has actually had. Research from May 2013 showed some two-thirds of the country’s 480 cannabis cafes still sell to tourists.
Coffee shops have to have a council licence to operate. The government turns a blind eye to the possession of up to five grammes of marijuana or cannabis, but soft drugs are not actually legal.