Netherlands: Court Says Tourists Can Be Barred From Dutch ‘Coffee Shops’

The Hague, Netherlands: Dutch lawmakers have the legal authority to prohibit non-residents from patronizing ‘coffee shops’ that openly sell small quantities of marijuana, Europe’s highest court ruled last week. ‘Coffee shops’ have operated in various Dutch cities since the early 1980s.

The European Court of Justice decided last week that Maastricht city officials were within their rights to prohibit so-called ‘drug tourists’ from visiting local ‘coffee shops.’ Maastricht is located in the southern part of the country, in close proximity to the borders of Belgium and Germany.

Government officials in recent months have threatened to impose regulations mandating that Dutch ‘coffee shops’ become ‘members-only‘ clubs for legal residents only.

The E.U. court determined that banning foreigners from the Netherlands’ ‘coffee shops’ “constitutes a measure capable of substantially limiting drug tourism and, consequently, of reducing the problems it causes.”

The court reasoned that Dutch officials could legally impose the ban because marijuana is illegal throughout most of Europe.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.