No Pot for You: The Dutch War on Tourism


Last week the European Court of Justice rejected the argument that Maastricht's 2005 ban on marijuana sales to visitors from other countries violates the European Union's single-market rules. "The prohibition on the admission of non-residents to Netherlands 'coffee shops' complies with European Union law," the court said in response to a challenge by a Maastricht coffee shop owner. "That restriction is justified by the objective of combating drug tourism and the accompanying public nuisance, an objective which concerns both the maintenance of public order and the protection of the health of citizens at the level of the Member States at European level….As the release of narcotic drugs into the economic and commercial channels of the European Union is prohibited, a coffee-shop proprietor cannot rely on the freedoms of movement or the principle of non-discrimination in so far as concerns the marketing of cannabis."

The decision, which was requested by the Netherlands' highest court, the Council of State, could open the way to a nationwide ban on marijuana sales to nonresidents, which would make Amsterdam much less appealing to visitors attracted by its tolerant and lively cannabis scene. The current Dutch government, run by a coalition of Liberals and Christian Democrats, wants to issue "grass passes" that would be required for admission to coffee shops. "If the Council of State now rules that access to coffee shops can be limited to inhabitants of the Netherlands," a spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Justice said, "then the grass pass can be limited to inhabitants of the Netherlands, and that helps combat drug tourism."

[via the Drug War Chronicle]