Connect to share and comment

Netherlands court upholds ban on tourists in pot cafes

A Dutch court has upheld a controversial new law making it more difficult for foreign tourists to buy cannabis in "coffee shops" across the Netherlands.

Netherlands maastricht cannabis cafeEnlarge
A pedestrian passes a legal cannabis head shop in 2006 in the Dutch city of Maastricht. The city has long been fed up with foreigners flocking to the town to get stoned, and cannabis cafes recently agreed to a voluntary ban on most foreign tourists. (Robin Utrecht/AFP/Getty Images)

A Dutch court has upheld a controversial new law making it more difficult for foreign tourists to buy cannabis in so-called coffee shops across the Netherlands, reversing more than four decades of liberal drugs policy in the country.

The ban will come into force in three southern provinces in May, and be applied nationwide by the end of the year, according to the BBC.

Dutch residents will still be allowed to enter any one of the 700 coffee shops across the Netherlands where cannabis is available, but they must have valid identification or possibly hold a new so-called weed pass, which is currently being debated.

According to Reuters, the ban is targeted at the many tourists who visit the country every year just to use soft drugs and aimed at tackling a rise in drug-related crime in the Netherlands.

More from GlobalPost: Netherlands to close cannabis cafes to tourists, impose restrictions on Dutch

Fourteen coffee shop owners and a number of pressure groups had challenged the law at The Hague district court, arguing that the ban was discriminatory against foreigners.

Maurice Veldman, a lawyer for the coffee shop owners, said Friday’s decision would be appealed.

His clients have threatened to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights should their claim be exhausted in the Netherlands, and will argue that the Dutch should not be allowed to discriminate against people on the basis of where they live:

“This is a bad decision not only for the foreigners who can be discriminated against now, but also for the image of the Netherlands in other countries,” Veldman said, according to the Associated Press.

“We are not a free country any more because our government asks us to discriminate.” 

More from GlobalPost: Dutch ban foreigners from cannabis cafes in Maastricht area

Alex Devine More than 1 year ago
a mean its went on for 40years why change a wining forumla pple in scotlandalone thers millions like a we splif after a hard days work or a drink pple do more damage on drink than on cannibas is good for my pains my legs and mirgranes it takes it away and a come your country least once year now spain bacalona taken it over good to c all the real famers r letting ther fields to b let out for grow ther own green again instead importing it from swizterland ....the famers rrr tops cause the ecomany its crazt to stop it when it clearly helps pple too just get up and about not for seling for own use ther a lot bad drugs out ther than cannibas that young pple of todays sociaty r all ino cannibas thats not write but rather tht than herion etc you no crazy change the lawes now...crazy think about the moni your country going loss out on in colardo ther despenserys r closed now and pple will go backwards instead off forwards future gota look at back to stealing dealing not getting grown properly chemicals still in the plant a persnoaly buy pple a no .......mental shut down in holland 700 shops all over never stop got to many pple depending on cannibas now in holland and all over the opioion donkey smell !!!!!!!!!!!