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 601.

    599 paul
    i like porridge as well

  • rate this

    Comment number 600.

    "I smoke two joints in time of peace,
    and two in time of war.
    I smoke two joints before I smoke two joints,
    and then I smoke two more."

    The Toyes

  • rate this

    Comment number 599.

    I like the way cannabis users seek to defend their drug habbit by comparing it with alcohol consumption, If it is safe why not compare it to eating porridge for instance ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 598.

    586. Adrian M Lee

    I think you've missed the point...some substances are only illegal not because of the harm they cause to society, but because of political ideology.

  • rate this

    Comment number 597.

    Some kids once opened a coffeeshop in A’dam. They were huge Rolling Stones fans and named the caff “Sticky Fingers”, after the album. Former Stones bassplayer Bill Wyman runs a burger bar also called Sticky Fingers and threatened to sue them unless they change the name. They complied. They renamed it “Why, man?”

  • rate this

    Comment number 596.

    Demand won't go away, all that will happen is a black market is instantly created, at the expense of the Amsterdam Tourist Board. They have just shot themselves in the foot. Dutch cannabis trade should stay as it is, and the rest of Europe follow their example, not the other way around! Anyway, back to my joint....

  • rate this

    Comment number 595.

    @583.Tsunami of Logic Im left leaning & proud to be. I find it hillarious when small minded numbskulls use words like "lefties" as if it is some kind of insult to believe in social justice etc. I suppose its no worse than being a right wing robot is it. Pitty you dont live up to your name ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 594.

    @586. Adrian M Lee

    And why is it illegal? Remember David Nutt, the drug expert who Alan Johnson fired because his opinions differed from those of government policy? The argument might be that it's illegal because of the prejudices of ill-informed and unqualified lawmakers who will turn a deaf ear to the advice of a world-renowned expert in the field in the hope of catching some extra votes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 593.

    Typical righties responses about it being illegal, but none of them even know the racist, ignorant reasons that it made illegal in the first place.
    I personally don't drink much alcohol as it gives me a bad stomach even after a few glasses. Why does this mean that I should be denied something similar to help me relax?!?
    Weed is a plant that grows naturally and goes through less processing than tea

  • rate this

    Comment number 592.

    Cannabis has a bad rep. I've never heard of anyone going out, having a smoke and then kicking off, its always those that drink or take hard drugs. Amsterdam is indeed a beautiful place, and full of culture, but even an idiot can see how much money they make in tourism. If it ain't broke, dont fix it!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 591.

    This is Discrimination against tourist, I'm Scottish we would not stop the Japanese drinking are extremely strong whiskey would we!
    On a serious note Im going to Amsterdam for the 2nd time in june this year and will be getting high, but I also visit museums and gallerys and take in the culture!

  • rate this

    Comment number 590.

    Please enlighten me:-

    Does cannabis have any long term harmful effects on the body?

    Are there any positive benefits of long term usage of the drug?

    If the answer is yes to the first and no to the second, then it should be banned, alongside a ban on tobacco.

    Unless I am missing the point somewhere. Please enlighten me.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 589.

    Stronger cannabis does NOT cause people to be more stoned, and it does not cause more psychosis.

    Not cause one to become more stoned?? No. Most people who smoke pot smoke only to reach a particular, comfortable, mellow state.

    We do NOT seek a maximum stone. We smoke LESS (of) powerful marijuana (safer). Pot smokers are the most civilized of all drug users, ESPECIALLY relative to ALCOHOL USERS.

  • Comment number 588.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 587.

    Typical righties response that it is illegal, but none of you even know the racist, ignorant reasons that it was made

  • rate this

    Comment number 586.

    @571 slothintrainin

    Fascinating comment. The usual pro-drugs over-used arguments about how cigarettes and alcohol are, 'just as bad, if not worse', yaddah, yaddah, yaddah.

    You kind of missed the point, sloth. How do you excuse that ignorance?

    Here it comes, watch now, IT'S ILLEGAL!

    Got that?

    Now if you want to dribble over a pathetic little spliff then do it in your own home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 585.

    @ 562.krokodil says "canabis smokers are young and naive" News flash=WRONG, do some research, there is no typical type of user! Every creed, colour, age group & social background uses cannabis. Most in fact have regular jobs contributing to society. But unlike drinkers, they dont cost us billions with health and anti social issues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 584.

    whats all the fuss about ? the netherlanders can decide what they want to do.
    if you want to buy drugs just ask one of those kids wearing bob marley hoodies stood outside the local comp school at chucking out time, seems plod over here turn a blind eye too

  • rate this

    Comment number 583.

    If there is one thing you can be sure of it's this: those who smoke cannabis are lefties to a man!! Think about could only come up with the nonsense they spout if your mind was addled with hallucinogenic drugs!!

    That's why the Dutch have banned 'em, they're sick & tiured of being over run by lefties!! Who can blame 'em??

  • rate this

    Comment number 582.

    Who cares what people do in cafes with their own money and time!!


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