|It’s not going to be Easy Going for you if you want to buy hash at this coffee shop — unless you’re Dutch.|
The Netherlands can ban over-the counter sales of marijuana in Dutch “coffee shops” to nonresidents to end drug tourism from other countries, a senior advisor to the European Union high court said Thursday, reports The Associated Press.
The advisor, Yves Bot, senselessly claimed a Dutch city’s ban on foreign customers in the shops is a “lawful and necessary measure” to cut crime and keep the peace, reports Stephanie Bodoni at Bloomberg.
“As drug tourism represents a genuine and sufficiently serious threat to public order in Maastricht, the exclusion of non-residents from coffee shops” is a “necessary” way of protecting residents, Bot said.
Bot, the high court’s advocate general, said that while selling “soft drugs” is legal in Holland (he was mistaken on that point, by the way; the Dutch merely decriminalized in 1976, but stopped short of fully legalizing pot, because international treaties prevent them from doing so), it is illegal elsewhere in the EU, which means products such as cannabis fall outside the free movement of goods around the 27-nation bloc.
It is up to each of the EU’s 27 nations “to determine the measures necessary for maintaining public order,” Bot said.
The Luxembourg-based EU court follows the advocate general’s advice in most cases. It is scheduled to rule soon in the case.
A ruling in line with Bot’s opinion would be a setback for Marc Josemans, owner of the “Easy Going” coffee shop, which has been in a dispute since 2006 with the mayor of Maastricht, a city in the south of the Netherlands near the Belgian border.
Josemans was forced to close his shop in 2006 after being accused of breaching the disputed rules against foreign marijuana customers in local coffee shops.
“At first sight, this verdict isn’t so good for us,” Josemans said. “This is a very big problem for me as an entrepreneur, but nothing is final yet because the EU court still has to decide and then the Dutch court will have the final say.”
About 10,000 people a day visit the city of Maastricht, roughly 70 percent of whom come from Belgium, Germany and France for the purposes of cannabis tourism, Sander Lely, a lawyer for the mayor, told the EU court.
The city, which has a population of 120,000, said it banned sales to foreigners to end the influx of drug tourists.
Dutch coffee shops are not allowed to sell more than five grams of cannabis per person, per day, and their stock must not exceed 500 grams.