Appeal court judges in The Hague have torn up a community service sentence handed down to a cannabis cafe owner, saying officials should have been aware he had marijuana stored in a nearby building.
The owner of the Leiden cafe and one member of staff were both found guilty of breaking drugs laws in 2014.
The appeal court judges said the men were right to assume that officials not only turned a blind eye to the coffee shop but to the fact they needed a supply of the drug in order to do business.
The cafe, which booked annual sales of €900,000, did not have more than the regulation 500 grammes of marijuana on the premises. The main stash – 7.5 kilos at the time of the arrests – was kept nearby so the cafe could be regularly restocked.
The court ruled that in turning a blind eye to such a large operation, officials must have been aware that it would need a considerable supply of marijuana, otherwise it could not function.
This, the court said, limited the options open to the public prosecution department to take legal action against the cafe owner.
Friday’s ruling is the latest in a string of rulings in which judges have questioned the current policy of licencing coffee shops but refusing to legalise the supply side.
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