EU Rules Dutch Can Bar Foreigners From Buying Marijuana


Photo: The World In Photos
What do you do if you have a thriving cannabis tourism industry pumping lots of money into the economy? Shut it down, if you’re the Dutch.

​The Netherlands is poised to shut down its thriving cannabis tourism industry which has been an economic boon to the country for 34 years. European Union judges have ruled that Dutch authorities are not violating European single market laws by barring foreigners from buying the cannabis and hashish that are sold in the country’s famous marijuana “coffee shops.”

The restrictions, aimed at discouraging “drug tourism” from Belgium, Germany, and other places, have so far been implemented only in border towns but will soon be extended across the Netherlands, including Amsterdam, popular with British pot tourists, reports Bruno Waterfield at The Telegraph.
The EU ruling was requested by the Dutch supreme court, the Council oif State, after Marc Josemans, who owns Easy Going Coffee Shop in Maastricht, sued after being forced to close for breaking the “no foreigners” rule.

Photo: Associated Press
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte supports banning foreigners from buying cannabis at Dutch coffee shops

​The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice ruled that the ban, which explicitly discriminates against foreign consumers in breach of EU single market rules, was “justified by the objective of combating drug tourism and the accompanying public nuisance.”
Because selling marijuana is technically illegal, the EU laws on free movement of goods and services don’t apply, according to the court.
The ruling is seen as an important precedent because the new conservative Dutch government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte is planning to use the model to restrict the sale of marijuana and hashish by creating a “grass pass” that will only be given to Dutch adults, thus shutting out pot tourists from being served in cannabis cafes.
The Netherlands decriminalized the use of marijuana in 1976, but stopped short of completely legalizing it because international treaties (the Single Convention) prohibited it from doing so. The country’s very first coffee shop, named after Donovan’s song “Mellow Yellow,” had opened its doors four years earlier.
But while cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, it has been openly sold for decades in designated cafes known as “coffee shops.” Police make no arrests for possession or purchases of up to 5 grams of marijuana or hashish. 
Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten has said he wants to turn coffee shops back into small neighborhood haunts where locals can smoke pot in peace, instead of the large-scale tourist attractions that many have become.
Josemans, the Easy Going owner who initiated the legal fight, argued that coffee shops are a successful way of regulating the cannabis market and preventing marijuana users from coming into contact with hard drugs like heroin, reports The Associated Press.
“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,” Josemans said. “That place is called the coffee shop.”
There are some 700 coffee shops in the Netherlands, reports the BBC.