Netherlands judge backs cafe cannabis ban

 
Protestor lights marijuana joint, Amsterdam 20 April 2012 Protesters in Amsterdam smoked marijuana joints as they campaigned against the proposed ban

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A judge in the Netherlands has upheld a new law to ban foreign tourists from entering cannabis cafes.

While soft drugs are tolerated, there is growing concern at tourists visiting just for drugs, and foreign dealers selling illegally at home.

The ban is due to start in three southern provinces next month, and go nationwide by the end of the year.

A group of cafe owners argued at The Hague district court that the ban was discriminatory against foreigners.

Under the new law, Dutch residents will still be allowed into the cafes, as long as they have valid identification, or possibly hold a new "weed pass", which is also being debated.

There are about 700 coffee shops, as they are called, in the Netherlands. The cultivation and sale of soft drugs through them is decriminalised, although not legal; police generally tolerate possession of up to five grams of cannabis.

A lawyer for the coffee shop owners said he would immediately lodge an appeal.

Michael Veling, a spokesman for the Dutch Cannabis Retailers Association, is among those challenging the government plan.

"It is going to cost me 90% of my turnover," he told the BBC World Service. "That is a very good reason for anyone to oppose any plan. Second it puts our customers in a very difficult spot, because why do you have to register to buy a substance that is still illegal?"

Tougher approach

The BBC's Anna Holligan in The Hague says the nationwide ban is being strongly opposed by the Mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, because around a third of the city's tourists visit to smoke cannabis in the cafes.

Lawyer Maurice Veldman, Cannabis Retailers' Association: "We will appeal straight away"

If the coffee shop owners lose their case they say they will take it to the European Court of Human Rights, on the grounds that the Dutch should not be allowed to discriminate against people on the basis of where they live.

The moves are part of a tougher approach to drugs introduced by the coalition conservative-led government, elected 18 months ago.

In October strong cannabis was reclassified as a hard drug, amid concerns that it has a psychotic effect on some users.

The move forced cannabis coffee shops to remove the more popular stronger varieties from their shelves.

In November the city of Maastricht brought in a coffee shop ban for foreign tourists from all countries, except Belgium and Germany, from where the majority of foreign customers come.

 

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  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 261.

    @248
    To be fair the use of the word supine doesn't come up too often in these blogs so we should give credit where it is due. However one should not confuse it with a sign of intelligence

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 260.

    I always thought Holland was flat. I now realise there must be some high areas. Was thinking of taking my bike and peddling around. Probably wont now.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 259.

    I have been to the Netherlands and like most I tried a small amount of cannabis whilst there and I can say you felt safe when purchasing the cannabis from one of the cafes. Now this won't be the case as selling to tourist will go underground which i believe no one will argue that this won't happen. Bad move i'm afraid they should have either banned it completely or left it alone.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 258.

    I do wish we could stop all this "I smoke and you drinkers are the problem" - "Oh but I drink, it's all you smokers that are the problem".

    This divide and conquer that governments have been pulling for decades and it is at the root of most that is wrong with the modern world.

    But for that we could all rise up as one and say "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH - Let us get on with our lives and enjoy some stuff."

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 257.

    @ 232.Gloss

    You've hit the nail right on the head Gloss - but there's too much corporate money in the drinks business to do anything substantial about the boozers.

    @ krokodil237

    A very sad life you must lead - do you hate everyone and everything?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 256.

    A very silly ruling. Tourism revenue will drop dramatically and a black market will thrive.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 255.

    Just read this and thought I wont be going to Amsterdam again! Then I realised that there are loads of Dutch people selling weed on the street (We have been approached before, and we have visited Amsterdam several times) and we can just buy it from them. Problem solved. Guess I will be back after all.

    And by the way, the real problem is the drunk tourists, not the people smoking weed.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 254.

    This can only be a disaster for the Dutch tourism, to maintain current levels of tourism you'd need so-called "cultured" visitors to come in previously unseen numbers as a result of an unrelated cannabis ban on tourists, AND they would need to visit multiple times like that of the cannabis tourist.
    Only the most naive snob/conservative would imagine this plan wouldn't harm the economy in mass.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 253.

    This prohibition against foreigners will do little to solve the problem, since there will still be an established supply of cannabis all this law will do is generate a huge demand in the black market, rerouteing tourist money into the hands of criminals and funding dangerous illegal activity. If Amsterdam want to address their reputation prohibition is not the way to do it.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 252.

    Why else would anyone visit Terneuzen, Maastricht or Eindhoven? Presumably the money that tourists spend on food and accommodation in addition to drugs is something the Netherlands can do without...might as well go to France and then at least the food's edible...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 251.

    In November the city of Maastricht brought in a coffee shop ban for foreign tourists from all countries, except Belgium and Germany, from where the majority of foreign customers come.

    Can anyone explain the logic behind that? Why is it that Belgian and German tourists get access to coffee shops when others don`t? That has to be discrimination doesn`t it. Either ban all foreign tourists or none.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 250.

    Sigh. So the Netherlands are to go from having a sensible drug policy that led to far less drug related crime towards a zenophobic policy that will harm their own small business owners. With the number of studies that emphatically state that drug prohibition causes far more problems than it solves, this is a big step backwards.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 249.

    Can other EU countries ban the Dutch? Can other countries clubs have the right to not allow any not locals?

  • Comment number 248.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 247.

    @233 Gerty - Completely agree

    Did you know...

    It has recently been found that oxygen is a significant contributory factor in all crime. In fact, the researchers went as far to claim that, should the consumption of oxygen be prohibited, crime rates would fall by an average of 100% worldwide.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 246.

    This will create a tier of intermediaries who will stand ouside the coffee shops. Rather like a kid asking an adult to take you into an A rated movie. P and O ferries will notice the difference.
    Interesting that in Maastricht Germans and Belgians are exempt from the current foreigner ban. Something rather familiar about the sound of that.

  • Comment number 245.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 244.

    say goodbye to your tourism

    easy come easy go

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 243.

    242. "If this is challenged in the higher European court then the Dutch authorities will lose."

    ... And the Dutch will ignore it.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 242.

    "They have a right to decide who they allow to part-take."

    No they don't. If this is challenged in the higher European court then the Dutch authorities will lose.

 

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