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Europe: Dutch Court Throws Out Maastricht Coffee Shop Ban on Foreigners

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #530)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

A district court judge in the Dutch border city of Maastricht Tuesday overturned a municipal ordinance ordering coffee shops to refuse to serve foreign clients, according to reports compiled by NIS News. The city had imposed the ban as an experimental measure in 2005, in part to appease the neighboring Belgian, French and German governments, who complain that their citizens go to Holland to score, and in part to appease conservative Justice Minister Peit Hein Donner.

downstairs of a coffee shop, Maastricht (courtesy Wikimedia)
One coffee shop was shut down for three months in 2006 because it did not follow the ban on foreigners. But it reopened three months later.

In the meantime, a legal challenge to the ordinance wound through the courts. Now, a Dutch judge has ruled that because the sale of marijuana is legal in practice under Dutch law, ordinances barring foreigners from partaking in that legal activity amount to discrimination by nationality, which is banned by the Dutch constitution unless there are objective, reasonable grounds to justify it. The judge held that no such grounds exist in the present case.

As a Dutch city bordering neighboring countries where marijuana policies are not so relaxed, Maastricht has been the locus of numerous battles over marijuana sales. Just three weeks ago, courts ruled against its bid to set up coffee houses on a designated strip on the city's outskirts to mitigate congestion from foreign "drug tourists."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Frankly, the Dutch don't preach others and they will not take preachings by two faced people. The Dutch are too smart for that kind of BS. Holland is one of the safest countries to live in because the Dutch have no tolerence for criminals and they offer the best protection to their visitors and not just their own people. Some of these other countries in Europe can't even hold a candle to Holland.

Sun, 04/06/2008 - 9:30am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

We know that the Dutch have always been more sensible regarding pot, but wonder why your conservative government is caving into the big-pharma campaign against marijuana? Can anyone anywhere tell me why cannabis is illegal when booze is? or aspirin, both of which can kill you? I wonder how many of those coffee shop tourists are scoring for sick relatives at home? As we all know, it works a lot better than a score of common prescription drugs-- with no unfortunate... or deadly... side effects.

Love and courage to all of you in the struggle. Maybe it's karma, but it's much more likely to be politics.

Sun, 04/06/2008 - 4:07pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

this CDA is nothing but a bunch of hype--and the press doesn't do much. Lessee. See, they want to control your thinking by telling you that the whole world is thinking their way--in other words, America has this War on Drugs. That means that: other countries that don't support it are under a lot of pressure to do things the way we do them.

When I read the first posts on ACD and uk420, I knew one thing: American-friendly press was trying to spread a scare, get people to doubt a policy that had been in effect for 30 years. They want us to make bad decisions: hundreds of articles come in about how the War on Drugs "doesn't work," how it's "injustice", blah blah blah. And to top it off--even the Dutch are going to change.

But the "change" will never happen--already they're under a lot of fire because Wilders made that anti-Muslim film. All over the Muslim world, they're furious with Holland. You know what that means, right? Within a few months, the bud growers in Afghanistan, Morocco, and Lebanon will consider not selling their products to Europe--as a protest, of course.

And that can't happen. You know what I'm saying?

Mon, 04/07/2008 - 6:40pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Most governments last about four years.

Cannabis is FOREVER.

You get what I'm saying?

Mon, 04/07/2008 - 6:42pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Its stupid that they wouldnt serve tourists. Thats part of the whole expirence when visiting Holland. The US should follow The Netherland's example..after all Holland has a very low crime rate along with Sweden..and look how relaxed Sweden's laws are...

Tue, 04/08/2008 - 3:55am Permalink
Joren De Vries (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Holland sucks.
The Dutch are known around the world for being open minded and tolerant, but they are NOT.
They are tolerant and open minded when they believe they will profit from business relations/good deals/make money/if they need something from someone, etc...
They live all over the world, there are entire Dutch colonies in the U.S, Brazil, Australia, etc..., where they don't even speak the local languages, only Dutch.
They treat the immigrants living in their countries with absolutely no respect, with intolerance and they are extremely close minded and very conservative. They are totaly different than the liberal image that they portray.
I know tons of Dutch people who don't smoke marijuana, but love to see the stupid tourists smoke it and get high on mushrooms. I can't tell you how many tourists get in serious accidents from getting high on mushrooms. The Dutch are laughing all the way to the bank.
They hate Americans, British, the French, etc... They hate foreigners. They believe that they are better, superior than all of you.
So, stop talking about them as if they were your buddies.
Yes, it is safe here, but that is they only good thing about this country.
The health system is horrible, the service in restaurants is horrible, the restaurants are dirty, the tables are dirty, the food is bad, the people unfriendly, ignorant, hypocriets and rude.
You can smike pot in a cafe, but they government makes tons of money off of it. The same goes to legal prostitution. The prostitutes are paying taxes, and yet the are mistreated by their pimps and there are tons of horror stories about girls being brought illegaly to work here as prostitutes/kept as slaves in hiden places --- they govrnment does very little to protect them.

Sun, 03/21/2010 - 9:57am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Surely the United States should start looking into the Legalization of Marijuana but will that ever happen NO !!! But back to the problem in holland , I live in europe and I'm pleased to say that I visit the Neatherlands as much as possible (ohyea baby) living only 4 hours away which ain't nothing with the German Autobahn system and I have never seen any type of crime their the life style is so relaxed that u get the feeling of well being not because your stoned but you actually feel safe even at night, as to the Coffeeshops only selling to refuse to serve foreign clients HA even the hollanders knew that wasen't going to stick lets face it the Coffeeshops in holland just make too much money to close down which will never happen hell long live the Neatherlands other countries should take note and start legalizing ."Now these things aren't drugs;they just bend your mind a little. I think everybody's mind should be bent once in a while" Bob Dylan 1966.

Mon, 08/18/2008 - 4:04am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

yep like i live in the uk and i have seen nice innocent people criminalised for growing cannabis .most of them are nicer than these lets ban all monsters .the punishments ruin lives far worse than growing and smoking cannabis in moderation.its individual common sense not the cannabis thats the problem.

Sat, 03/14/2009 - 1:30pm Permalink

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