EU Court Okays Dutch Coffee Shop Ban for Foreigners

Saying the effort to combat drug use and drug tourism outweighed European Union provisions for equal treatment for all EU citizens, the European Court of Justice last Thursday upheld a Dutch border town's ban on the sale of marijuana to foreigners. The ruling paves the way for Holland to institute a national "weed pass" to keep non-Dutch out of the nation's famous coffee shops.

Can windmills and the Rijksmuseum pack 'em in like the coffee shops? (wikimedia.org)
The ruling came in Josemans v. Maastricht, in which Maastricht coffee shop owner Marc Michel Josemans challenged a 2005 Maastricht ban on selling cannabis products to non-residents. He was forced to temporarily close his shop after selling to foreigners in order to set up a test case. Josemans challenged the law in Dutch administrative courts, which asked the European Court of Justice to review the issue.

"The prohibition on the admission of non-resident to Netherlands 'coffee shops' complies with European Union law," the court held. "That restriction is justified by the objective of combating drug tourism and the accompanying public nuisance, an objective which concerns both the maintenance of public order and the protection of the health of citizens at the level of the Member States at European level."

Josemans had argued that barring foreigners from the coffee shops amounted to illegal discrimination under EU law, but the court held that because their product was illegal, coffee shop owners could not rely on EU protections: "As the release of narcotic drugs into the economic and commercial channels of the European Union is prohibited, a coffee-shop proprietor cannot rely on the freedoms of movement or the principle of non-discrimination in so far as concerns the marketing of cannabis," the court held.

The ruling opens the way for Holland's conservative Liberal/Christian Democrat governing coalition to institute a nationwide ban on foreigners purchasing marijuana at the coffee shops. The government is planning to introduce a "weed pass" that will be required to purchase pot and will only be available to Dutch citizens and legal residents.

"If the Council of State rules that access to coffee shops can be limited to inhabitants of the Netherlands, then the weed pass this Cabinet wants to introduce can be limited to inhabitants of the Netherlands and that helps combat drug tourism," Justice Ministry spokesman Wim van der Weegen told Bloomberg News Friday.

Barring foreigners may be a Pyrrhic victory for Dutch border towns. Maastricht alone sees 10,000 visitors a day, mostly from Belgium, Germany, and France. The number of those visitors who come primarily to purchase marijuana is substantial, and, of course, pot isn't all they purchase. Income and tax revenues from border city coffee shops are likely to decline precipitously.

The looming ban on foreigners in coffee shops is just part of a larger crackdown on the shops in Holland. Their numbers have shrunk by about half from their peak as local governments seek to close shops that have violated the law, are too close to schools, or otherwise inconvenient for local authorities. The national government is also hostile.

Netherlands
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Boycott the Netherlands!

It is time for stoners to organize  a worldwide boycott of the Netherlands. Those idiots who suggest traveling to the Netherlands just to but from street dealers are looking for a second rate substitute for trying to defeat the problem of fascism. If one at best can only but from illegal sources in America and other countries what sense does it make to go to a country where one can only buy from illegal sources and have no place to smoke. Those who ask the question what substitute there is for Amsterdam and suggest places that only have an illegal streetdealing scene are not answering the question; the question is where can one buy cannabis legally and find a place where they can smoke legally. I'm sorry but California is not a solution; one has to be a patient and a state resident. Lets face it the one place in the world where one can experience cannabis legally if you are not a patient and not a citizen of the country no longer exists. We have nowhere in the world now where we are not oppressed. I have no substitute or solution. All one can do is morn and cry: we are back in the situation that existed from 1973-1975 when Nepal ended legality and before the Netherlands liberalized its laws. There is no substitute and an illegal street scene in any country is not a substitute. I just wish those dutch people who think their country is a liberal open society will wake up and smell the stench of fascism: stop making excuses for drug warriors and fanatical Christian Islamophobia. Don't insult me by saying The Netherlands has legal prostitution and should be regarded as progressive because men can have sex with prostitutes. What good is that for a sick man who is impotent, has an illness he needs cannabis as a medicine for but whose state has not legalized medical cannabis and due to unemployment and destitution cannot even move to a state where he can qualify for medical cannabis to be told that he is still being treated in a humane way by the Dutch government because he legally has the ability to be with a prostitute but has no physical means to have sex. I need my medicine, my cannabis legally -- I have no illegal connection and have no access to cannabis be it safe or unsafe, legal or illegal access -- not some sleazy hooker I cant have sex with. The whole thing is just insult added to the injury the new fascist Dutch government is imposing on the world. Boycott the Netherlands. Do not give then your tourist money until they repeal this unjust ban. And if the Dutch government does not repeal this ban to hell with Holland! 

As much as it sucks that

As much as it sucks that foreigners will no longer be able to smoke weed in holland, there is an upside to this: We will be able to get closer to the what legalization's effects will ultimately be like, because once it's legal everywhere there will no longer be the problem of drug tourism (parting from the premise that drug tourism really is a problem, which i'm not sure about). In that sense Hollands situation might improve (not that it's not good already, but it'd be better) and we can point to that and say "look, legal marijuana results in a good situation for a country". (Except in the sense that they'd lose money).  Although because the wholesale is still illegal, it might turn out to be even more problematic for them because it increases the amount of underground deals. We'll see how it plays out, as it could go either way. One important thing to watch for is how they enforce the law in practice; if they card you when you enter the coffeshop, or if they card you when you buy the cannabis. Because if it's the latter, there will be plenty of dutch citizens selling it on the streets and then you can go in with your own cannabis and smoke it inside the coffeeshop (by pretending that you bought it legally at another coffeshop (they let you do that as long as you buy a juice or something). A better experiment for them would be to legalize the production and wholesale. They would still have the traffic jams and the public urination problem (if it's true that pot tourist really do that; sounds more like drunks to me, but anyway, that's one of their arguments), but they might have a reduced homicide rate and less production of other drugs like ecstacy (from not diverting the resources to make those drugs from the illegal cannabis market). Anyway, even if it turns out badly for Hollands residents, it would still be additional information we can use to see what the best policy for a country or state is. It's good to have that information because legalization will happen little by little, place by place, and if there really is such a thing as "the problem" of drug tourism, it would be practical for those places that legalize to know how to prevent it (and then we can point to those places and say, "see, legalization is safe to try"). Anyway, this obviously sucks, but there is a silver lining to everything. The issue is going to get more and more talked about and more and more places are going to try different little changes in law and we'll keep chugging along, and gathering data, and we'll always ultimately be moving in the direction of legalization.

By the way, to some degree it is still legal in Punjab, India in the form of bhang. We might want to switch our tourist endeavors in that direction (it's really far though, i know, but i'm just saying it's still legal there if you can afford it). 

Beyond all the problems the

Beyond all the problems the Dutch are about to create for themselve I honestly I believe this a good thing for The United States. Supply and Demand is what runs this country. The greater the supply is limited the more those who demand it will be willing to fight for it's availability. If The Netherlands outlaw drug tourism it can only help the cause of legalization here in America. All the people in this country that were going to spend money to travel to their country in order to consume cannabis, de facto legally, will no longer have a place to go to consume cannabis without fear and will either stop consuming cannabis, hasn't happened yet, or will be more willing to fight for the freedom to legally consume cannabis in their state and/or country. I support your ignorance 100% Dutch law makers! It is this sort of ignorant behavior that only helps further our cause in America. Should I send you a basket of fancy cheese and crackers with a thank you note? Maybe, just maybe.

 

Also, please do not waste money traveling to another country so you can consume cannabis semi legally there. Take that money and put it towards the cause. Norml, Mpp, the Drug Policy Aliance, SSDP, and so many more made up of men and woman who have dedicated their lives to changing this countries views and laws to reflect truth and fact. Every dollar that we donate to them is one stop closer to a country where a man or woman can purchase legal cannabis in a store, Legally drive it home where he/she legally consume it in the safety of his/her own home. To me that is a greater use of my money then childishly running away from the problem to live a short, temporary, delusional fantasy life only to return to the problem with much less money to use on fixing the problem and the fleating memories of how things could be if only...

Beyond all the problems the

Beyond all the problems the Dutch are about to create for themselve I honestly I believe this a good thing for The United States. Supply and Demand is what runs this country. The greater the supply is limited the more those who demand it will be willing to fight for it's availability. If The Netherlands outlaw drug tourism it can only help the cause of legalization here in America. All the people in this country that were going to spend money to travel to their country in order to consume cannabis, de facto legally, will no longer have a place to go to consume cannabis without fear and will either stop consuming cannabis, hasn't happened yet, or will be more willing to fight for the freedom to legally consume cannabis in their state and/or country. I support your ignorance 100% Dutch law makers! It is this sort of ignorant behavior that only helps further our cause in America. Should I send you a basket of fancy cheese and crackers with a thank you note? Maybe, just maybe.

 

Also, please do not waste money traveling to another country so you can consume cannabis semi legally there. Take that money and put it towards the cause. Norml, Mpp, the Drug Policy Aliance, SSDP, and so many more made up of men and woman who have dedicated their lives to changing this countries views and laws to reflect truth and fact. Every dollar that we donate to them is one stop closer to a country where a man or woman can purchase legal cannabis in a store, Legally drive it home where he/she legally consume it in the safety of his/her own home. To me that is a greater use of my money then childishly running away from the problem to live a short, temporary, delusional fantasy life only to return to the problem with much less money to use on fixing the problem and the fleating memories of how things could be if only...

I feel the need to apologise

I feel the need to apologise for our politicians stupidity.

This is a disaster not a good thing

While we should contribute money to reform organizations and work with those organizations to achieve non-medical, religious and medical legalization of marijuana the truth is that the prohibition of foreigners in the coffeeshops will not cause those things to happen. The real result will more likely be for the foreigners to buy from local black market dealers in their own country and enrich the cartels while getting inferior weed. What this reactionary move of the Dutch government does is these following things.

A) It deprives people who are questioning the illegality of cannabis with a place where they can try weed and find out it is not the evil demon weed they were told it was. Such ignorance damages the movement and can cause people to remain anti-cannabis.

B) It deprives people of a model country where people can say that cannabis legalization can work for all. We should not buy into the lie that all foreigners acted in a socially reprehensible way and that only Dutch people should be allowed to smoke. As for those who did act in this way how many times do we see people act in a worse way on alcohol and nobody talks about bringing back prohibition.

C) It deprives people who want to move to a place that does not have anti-cannabis laws. Not all people to went to Holland did so on a temporary basis. Many who were not Dutch citizens moved to Holland and contributed to the building of the cannabis industry there and building the cannabis legalization movement worldwide. Amsterdam was a world headquarters was the cannabis legalization movement. It looks like it can no longer play that function.

D) It deprives people who have a medical need for medical cannabis but have no legal medical cannabis in their state or country. In the case of the United States many have medical conditions which should qualify them for medical cannabis but either have no medical cannabis laws or have medical cannabis laws that are so restrictive that their condition does not allow them to qualify. If they had a place like what the Netherlands used to be  this would not be a problem because all people would have qualified there. Some states like California have more lenient laws but qualification can never be taken for granted and the possibility of prop. 215 being overthrown always looms on the horizon. Cooley was almost elected attorney general and had he been elected prop. 215 might have been abolished in all but name. I am an example of a patient who is excluded by some states medical cannabis laws. I have hypertension. California allows me to qualify but New Jersey never will. I may be able to be qualified there or I may not be qualified there -- nothing is certain -- but if foreigners were still allowed in the coffeeshops this would not be a problem.

The solution is to fight and try to get the Dutch government to change its position. One method is to boycott the country. Do not give your tourist dollars to that country. Secondly work with local Dutch people who support us and try whatever sort of political action they can to reverse the situation. I know nothing about Punjab but real substitutes not local street scenes if they exist should be explored. A real substitute would have a situation in which cannabis is sold legally (police are not just corruptly looking the other way for a payoff), the dealers pay taxes and foreigners are accepted. I know of such a situation. Both cannabis law reform and a refuge are needed. One should not be glad that this happened. One should mourn for what has happened. Both foreigners and Dutch people will suffer. Last but not least if some jerk says that Holland is OK because one can still legally have sex with a prostitute tell them to go to hell. As a man suffering from impotence this just adds insult to the injury of the ban on foreigners.

correction

I want to correct one typo in the above statement. Between "foreigners are accepted" and "Both cannabis law reform" the sentence should read "I do not know of such a situation" not "I know of such a situation". I do want want people to think I have some secret cannabis paradise in mind. I do not know of any situation which can act as a proper substitute for the freedom we just lost in the Netherlands. Sorry.

undrgrndgirl's picture

are the dutch...

going to do the same with prostitution?

its sad that u.s. right wing nuttery (from cannabis prohibition, tough on crime foolishness to out and out racism) has so poisoned other countries: holland, denmark, canada, australia to name a few...

 

 

That link for the petition

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