EU Court Okays Dutch Cannabis Ban for Foreigners

Last month, we reported on a plan being proposed in The Netherlands to ban the sale of marijuana to tourists. Now, European Union (EU) judges have ruled that barring foreigners from purchasing marijuana in the country’s notorious “cannabis coffee shops” does not breach established single market laws.

The Dutch restrictions were put in place to help decrease “drug tourism” from nearby Belgium and Germany, and are currently limited to border cities like Maastricht and Rozendaal. Soon, however, they will be extended throughout the country, including Amsterdam, a popular destination for British and American travelers.

Five years ago, in order to handle the 10,000 cannabis-smoking foreigners arriving each day, Maastricht passed a law prohibiting marijuana “coffee shops” from allowing the admission of people who live outside the Netherlands.

This week’s EU ruling was made at the behest of the Dutch supreme court, the Council of State, after the owner of the “Easy Going” cannabis cafe’s owner, Marc Josemans, sued because he was forced to close because he broke the “no foreigners” rule. The European Court of Justice, however, found that the ban was “justified by the objective of combating drug tourism and the accompanying public nuisance” even though it does explicitly discriminate against foreign consumers in an apparent breach of the EU single market rules.

The ruling is considered an important precedent because the new government planning to use it as a model to restrict the sale of marijuana and hashish by creating a “grass pass” that only Dutch adults will receive, thus preventing drug tourists from being served in the cannabis cafes.

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