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Dutch Ban on Pot Tourists Still Imminent

But "coffee shop" owners plan to fight back against legislation they say will destroy their livelihoods.

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By Chrisanne Grise

04/27/12

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All those tourists getting high in Amsterdam are an endangered species: a judge in the Netherlands has upheld a new law banning foreigners from entering any of the country’s 700 cannabis cafés, or "coffee shops," in light of concerns that pot tourists are spoiling neighborhoods or purchasing marijuana to sell in neighboring countries. The ban is now scheduled to come into force in three southern provinces next month, and should cover the entire country by the end of the year. But coffee shop owners are already planning to fight back with a new appeal, possibly even taking it to the European Court of Human Rights. Under the new law, coffee shops would become members-only establishments: only Dutch residents with a "weed pass" would be allowed inside, and the cafés themselves would only be allowed to distribute 2,000 such passes. Coffee shop owners argue that this ban discriminates against foreigners and will have a huge impact on the industry. "It is going to cost me 90% of my turnover," says a spokesman for the Dutch Cannabis Retailers Association. "That is a very good reason for anyone to oppose any plan.” The Netherlands’ conservative government is working to tighten the country's famously liberal drug laws. Currently, the cultivation and sale of marijuana is decriminalized but not legal; police generally allow possession of up to five grams.

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