Amsterdam's pot "coffee shops" could go up in smoke
Category: Culture | Posted on Thu, December, 16th 2010 by THCFinder
A new ruling by Europe's highest court may help pave the way for a ban on foreign tourists buying marijuana at free-wheeling "coffee shops" in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities.
The European Court of Justice announced Thursday that the mayor of Maastricht -- a southern town near the German and Belgian borders and not far from France -- was right to close down a coffee shop that had been selling cannabis to non-residents, says Reuters.
"A prohibition on admitting non-residents to coffee shops ... constitutes a measure capable of
CAPTIONBy PETER DEJONG, AP
substantially limiting drug tourism and, consequently, of reducing the problems it causes," the Luxembourg-based court said in its judgment.
Flooded by pot-smoking foreigners arriving at the rate of 10,000 a day, Maastricht passed a law in 2005 to prohibit marijuana-selling selling coffee shops from admitting non-residents.
The Dutch supreme court asked for an EU ruling after a coffee shop owner sued when he was forced to close for breaking the "no foreigners" rule.
The ruling is seen as an important precedent because a new Dutch government is planning to use the model to restrict the sale of marijuana and hashish by creating a "grass pass" that will be only be given to Dutch adults, reports the London Telegraph.
While marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, it has been sold openly for decades in designated cafés and police make no arrests for possession of small amounts.
Marc Josemans, owner of the Easy Going coffee shop in Maastricht who initiated the legal fight, told the Associated Press that coffee shops are a successful way of regulating the drug market and preventing marijuana users coming into contact with drugs like heroin.
"All these people who visit coffee shops, they want to use and buy cannabis in a safe haven where they are not being contacted with hard drugs or hassled for other things," he said. "That place is called the coffee shop."
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