World

Dutch court upholds ban on tourist trade in cannabis

A man lights a cigarette rolled with cannabis, April 20, 2012. — Reuters picA man lights a cigarette rolled with cannabis, April 20, 2012. — Reuters picAMSTERDAM, April 27 — A controversial law that will make it harder for foreign tourists to buy cannabis at the Netherlands' famous coffee shops has been upheld by a Dutch court.

The law, which reverses 40 years of liberal drugs policy in the Netherlands, is targeted at the many foreigners who have come to see the country as a soft drugs paradise and to tackle a rise in crime related to the drug trade.

The law, which goes into force in three southern provinces on May 1 before going nationwide next year, means coffee shops can only sell cannabis to registered members.

Only locals, whether Dutch or foreign residents, will be allowed to join a coffee shop, and each coffee shop will be limited to 2,000 members. Some users regard the requirement to register as an invasion of privacy.

Fourteen coffee shop owners and several pressure groups challenged the law in the courts, saying they should not be asked to discriminate between locals and non-locals.

A lawyer for the coffee shop owners said they would appeal.

The Dutch government, which collapsed at the weekend, had also planned to forbid any coffee shops within 350 metres of a school, with effect from 2014.

The government in October launched a plan to ban what it considered to be highly potent forms of cannabis – known as “skunk” – placing them in the same category as heroin and cocaine. — Reuters

Comments

Please refrain from nicknames or comments of a racist, sexist, personal, vulgar or derogatory nature, or you may risk being blocked from commenting in our website . We encourage commenters to use their real names as their username. As comments are moderated, they may not appear immediately or even on the same day you posted them. We also reserve the right to delete off-topic comments