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

    Comment number 361.

    I'm sure that there are better things to see and do in the Netherlands rather than sitting around toking on a jazz woodbine all day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    SWATCH,that's like comparing apples and oranges. Millions of people enjoy a smoke just in the UK and do no harm, there are only hundreds of murders and rapist who do harm when they partake of their particular activity.

    Workingclassnortherner, even tho it is that easy to grow, there would still be plenty of people who don't and will still visit a legal cafe for a smoke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.


    Absolutely mate but let's not allow facts to spoil this discussion, I'm splitting my sides at another "childish" poster who thinks weed is addictive.

    Yes I have tried it and I know for a fact I was addicted from the first puff....yawn

    355.Yankee_Poodle - get a grip on reality please

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.


    Ha ha ha i am English mate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    .. if it's legal how on Earth can large companies make money on it? how can Gov tax it?
    If someone can answer these questions i think you would see cannabis legalised the world over


    Same way they make money on tobacco surely!

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    I don't understand why a drug like cannabis has not been studied further or made available to people suffering from diseases like glaucoma, what is it about cannabis that has the government so tight-lipped on it?

    If alcohol, that awful, devastating destroyer of familes, that utter scourge on society is legal then i fail to see why cannabis isn't, it can't be anywhere near as bad for society.

  • Comment number 355.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    A new source of income for youngsters resident in Holland: buy cannabis from a coffee shop and sell it to foreign tourists. Result: coffee shops lose income; youngsters become cannabis dealers. Brilliant!

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    As a EU citizen living in England when I go on holiday to an EU country I am a second class EU citizen we cannot use coffee shops in the Netherlands we get searched for tobacco and wine at our boarders but if we are in the EU then treat us all the same

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    2 Hours ago

    I don't take drugs of any kind, never have, but I bet I could get some in an hour

    Send me your number please, my "man in the know" got banged up recently....

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    329. Grayburn

    You should stay out of most British high streets on Saturday night as well then lol

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.

    Comment number1 makes an excellent point.

    People try to impose a moral argument to this, i.e., alcohol's okay and just a bit of a laugh, but any illegal substance is immoral and evil.

    The fact is that alcohol is very harmful to society. Many drugs are only harmful because they're illegal, so have to be gained by illegal means.

  • rate this

    Comment number 349.

    Chodwollop - most weed is grown under lights in NL, not imported from Morroco.
    Correct. I used to live not far from at least half a dozen farms that grew it under lit up white plastic sheets. Used to love the smell from them when out walking the dog.

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    Editors Pick - Comment 282. aa2239 -

    You've hit the nail on the head.

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    Amsterdam without Cannabis??
    What next- Vegas without Gambling?!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    To the overzealous moderators who censored my post about the Bloemenmarkt, this is where one goes to buy flowers, not cannibis. try and develop a sense of humour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    This is just going to worsen things in the Netherlands, recently there was a report which I read on bbc news and it stated how poorly the economy was doing and the amount of people that required food handouts was growing at an exponential rate, easily surpassing our own need for food handouts in the UK, this is only going to exacerbate the situation more, poor mistake from their government

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    Surely this must be in contravention of EU Rules?

    I understood that all EU citizens have equal rights in all EU countries - hence the government cannot promise "British Jobs for British Workers" as Gordon Brown once tried to do.

    If the EU regulators do not overrule this it will set an interesting precedent.

    Non-UK citizens could be refused benefits in this country!

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    Woah I gotta be completely toasted baby, I just an article Barclays and it's like disappeared man....completely sunk's like there's a bermuda triangle for the wrong news....what's happening?

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    Whoever the whacko was that thought up this idea must have been totally off his head. Complete madness. When are these politicians going to see sense?- deciminalise cannabis for over 18s and start earning tax from the sales revenue, rather than spending millions on ineffective policing.


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