Pubdate: Fri, 17 Dec 2010
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 The Ottawa Citizen
Note: from Agence France-Presse


Dutch Town Can Refuse To Sell Marijuana To 'Drug Tourists,' Ruling

Europe's top court ruled Friday that Dutch authorities can bar
foreigners from cannabis cafes, upholding a border town's restriction
as a justified measure to combat drug tourism.

Inundated by foreign visitors, the town of Maastricht, near the
Belgian and German borders, imposed a new law in 2005 to prohibit
marijuana-selling "coffee shops" from admitting people who do not
reside in the Netherlands.

Maastricht's 14 pot cafes attract around 10,000 visitors every day, or
3.9 million a year, and 70 per cent of them are not from the
Netherlands, according to town data cited by the European Court of

The town's restrictions comply with European Union law despite the
27-nation bloc's freedom of movement regulations, the Luxembourg-based
court ruled.

"That restriction is justified by the objective of combating drug
tourism and the accompanying public nuisance," the court said, adding
that it is a concern for the public order and health of citizens in
all EU states.

The mayor of Maastricht temporarily closed the Easy Going coffee shop
in September 2006 after it admitted two non-residents.

The owner of the establishment, Marc Josemans, challenged the decision
and argued that the legislation represented an unjustified, unequal
treatment of EU citizens, the court said.

But the top court ruled that a coffee shop owner could not rely on the
EU's freedom of movement and nondiscrimination principles to market
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D