Public prosecutor to set aside cannabis complaints

The public prosecution department said on Wednesday it would not act on complaints by foreign tourists that they had been refused admission to cannabis cafes in the south of the country, website reported.

From May 1, all 80 so-called coffee shops in the south of the country should have been turned into private members’ clubs and customers must prove they live in the locality to be able to buy soft drugs. The measure will go nationwide on January 1, 2013.
The government hopes the new rules will reduce drugs tourism and criminality but opponents fear there will be an increase in street dealing.
Legal action
On Monday Maastricht café Easy Going refused entrance to a handful of foreigners in an effort to encourage legal action.
A spokesman for the local prosecution department said the complaints had been recorded and it is up to the tourists themselves to take the matter to court.
The European Court of Justice ruled last year restricting sales to Netherlands’ residents only is ‘justified by the objective of combating drug tourism’ and reducing public nuisance. The aim of the restriction is to maintain public order and protect public health, the court said.
At the moment, the Dutch 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. Some 70% of Maastricht coffee shop customers are from abroad.

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