Dutch Judge: Pot Tourism Ban Goes Live on Tuesday

Coffee shop owners plan to appeal
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2012 8:40 AM CDT
In this Friday April 20, 2012 file photo a woman holds a marijuana joint in Amsterdam during a protest against a government plan to stop foreigners from buying marijuana in the Netherlands.   (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)
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(Newser) – Sorry, tourists, but it looks like the Netherlands is remaining firm on a ban that will prevent foreigners from buying pot in its famous cannabis cafes. A judge upheld the new law, due to go into effect in three southern provinces on May 1 and throughout the country by the end of the year, after it was opposed by café owners who argued it discriminated against foreigners. Others fear the ban will simply lead to an increase in street dealing. The group of coffee shop owners plans to appeal and may eventually take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, the BBC reports.

The ban was passed as concern over "pot tourism" increased—in particular, drug couriers who come over the border to buy marijuana, then sell it back home in Belgium or Germany, were causing problems in border cities. But such problems don't exist in Amsterdam, the AP explains. About one-third of that city's tourists visit the cafés, and the mayor is strongly opposed to the ban. Under the new law, Dutch citizens would still be allowed to visit coffee shops if they hold a private membership or "weed pass." In at least at least two cities, including Amsterdam, café owners plan to ignore the new law and force the government to prosecute.

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