Foreign visitors to the Dutch town of Maastricht may find it easier to get their hands on cannabis, a week after a court ruled a ban on selling it to foreigners was, itself, illegal.
Maastricht Mayor Otto Hoes had tried to close the Easy Going coffee shop after it sold marijuana to non-Dutch citizens. Hoes’ spokesman said of youngsters coming to Maastricht to buy the drug: “They were noisy, unruly, a nuisance.” As many as 1.6 million ‘cannabis tourists’ flocked to the town each year.
Last year a judge upheld a law that came into force nationwide on January 1, 2013, and made it illegal for foreign tourists to enter cannabis coffee shops, amid a push by conservatives to stop ‘cannabis tourism.’ But pro-coffee shop lobbyists in Amsterdam, fearing an adverse effect on tourist revenues, managed to tone down the law; as a result individual towns now decide whether or not to ban the sale of cannabis to tourists.
In Maastricht, last week’s court ruling in favour of Easy Going prompted the Maastricht Coffee Shops Association (Vereniging Officiële Coffeeshops Maastricht) to say they see this as the green light to once again start selling marijuana to foreign visitors. Thirteen coffee shops will open for Dutch and non-Dutch on Sunday, May 5.
Despite his setback, Mayor Hoes has promised to take legal action against any establishment selling the drug to non-residents.