Dutch Courts Move to Ban Marijuana Cafés

“Coffee shops” where small amounts of cannabis have been legally bought and smoked, on or off the premises, since 1976, have become a major industry and a popular tourist attraction in many Dutch cities, especially the capital.

But the Dutch government has in recent years launched a major overhaul of the country’s “gedoogbeleid” or tolerance policy on soft drugs in order to combat drug tourism, which has is associated with public rowdiness in border towns, such as Maastricht, that lie close to Belgium, France and Germany.

The government has decided the influx of foreign tourists, including many young Britons, who come to Netherlands to smoke and consume cannabis that is illegal in their home countries poses a serious public order and criminality problem.

Cross border drug tourists suffered a serious blow at the end of 2010 when EU judges ruled that the authorities are not in breach of European single market laws by barring foreigners from buying marijuana that is on sale to the Dutch.

The ban is due to start in three southern border provinces next month, with a nationwide one by the end of the year expected to meet fierce resistance in liberal Amsterdam where both the city’s mayor and council are opposed to a prohibition on the “weed” trade for hundreds of thousands of tourists, including many Britons.

Under the proposals, cafés licensed to sell marijuana will have to introduce a checking system of locally issued “grass or weed passes” to Dutch residents in order to prevent foreign smokers from buying drugs.

Turnover of the legal “coffee shop” trade is estimated to be at least £1.6 billion every year, with tourist accounting for a significant income for cities like Amsterdam.

The ban edged close on Friday, after group of café owners lost a case at The Hague district court that the ban is discriminatory unless it can be proved that foreigners are causing more of a public order problem than locals.

Maurice Veldman, the lawyer for the Cannabis Retailers Association, attacked the ruling and accused the judges of having caved into political pressure.

“It is a 100 per cent political verdict to defend the state. There is no public order problem with coffee shops in cities like Amsterdam,” he said.

Mr Veldman said that under existing laws city authorities could ban foreigners “in cases of severe public disturbance” but that measures had never been used “since coffee shops are notorious for their peaceful and non-violent ambience”.



  1. Anonymous on

    The dutch dont have the monopoly on cannabis but if they like to shoot themselves in the foot its their own problems.Their economy will take a serious beating and in the long term I doubt that this political move is gonna last long when their pockets become empty.What we see nowadays is the right wing ideology gaining ground in Europe.

  2. Dave on

    Well spoken from the land of Immigrants

  3. Dirty Harry on

    Here in the USA, states are against the feds over illegal immigrants. The feds don’t want states to check status and is suing states who try.
    Can you imaging what would happen in the USA if ANY store said, “We will not provide you services unless you prove your a citizen?”…Bloody hell would break out. Here anything that includes race or citizenship in any question will bring the lawyers and activist judges running.

  4. Dave on

    Actually the most intolerant people I’ve met has, often, been the religious ones!

  5. Guest1 on

    Who really cares? anyone who is a bit concerned about the situation of cannabis all around the world and not just in their own country… it’s by being active and connected that things will move in our favor, and not by yielding to egocentricity.

  6. Nevalliss on

    It would seem that the famous Dutch tolerance has grown to include intolerance. Okay then let’s look at it from a logical point of view. 1.6 BILLION Euros in tourism, or nothing from the culture pulse of the planet. Hmmmmm. I wonder if the Dutch bankers think that is a good idea. What’s next? Jack boots and brown shirts? You see, when the people become the rational ones and the leaders become the ignorant ones, the people will become the Leaders and the Leaders become those that MUST follow the people. This approach to a global inforced drug policy will only cause more turmoil than peace, and people will fight harder for peace then fear, or war, or rules that ARE illogical, immoral, and totally unjust.

  7. Bhonze on

    Who really cares? We have plenty of good weed in the US and I can also go to BC a lot cheaper than Amsterdam. I like Vamsterdam much better anyway also BC and the US have just as good bud if not better. Amsterdam is really kind of out dated. I can’t wait to get my ticket to WA or CO once they LEGALIZE in November!