Europe: Dutch Delay Plan to Make Border Cannabis Cafes Members Only

A plan to make Dutch border town cannabis cafes members only in a bid to thwart "drug tourism" is on indefinite hold, a Dutch official said Monday. The plan, which was supposed to go into effect January 1, needs further study, the official said. "We need to finalize our preparations before we can put the project into operation," said Petro Hermans, a project officer for the southeastern city of Maastricht. "We are studying the legal feasibility of the project," he said, adding the date of January 1 "was not practicable". Maastricht is one of eight municipalities in southern Limburg province that announced jointly last May they would make the 30 coffee shops in their jurisdictions members only. The plan would also reduce the daily limit on marijuana purchases from five grams to three and require that payment be made with a Dutch debit card. The measures are a bid to reduce the estimated four million visitors to Limburg each year who come from more repressive neighboring countries—France, Germany, and Belgium—to buy marijuana. Limburgers have complained that the drug tourists cause problems ranging from traffic congestion to public urination to hard drug dealing. The Dutch government decriminalized the possession of up to five grams of marijuana in 1976 and allows for retail sales through licensed coffee shops. There are about 700 coffee shops throughout the country. Back in Limburg, Hermans said that a report on the feasibility of the members only plan was due by mid-month. "We will then decide how to proceed," he said.
Location: 
Maastricht, LI
Netherlands
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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