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News Link • Drug War

Dutch judge upholds ban on shops selling pot to tourists

• http://www.ctv.ca, The Associated Press
 

THE HAGUE — Long famous for "coffee shops" where joints and cappuchinos share the menu, the Netherlands' famed tolerance for drugs could be going up in smoke.

A judge on Friday upheld a government plan to ban non-Dutch residents from buying marijuana by introducing a "weed pass" available only to residents.

The new regulation reins in one of the country's most cherished symbols of tolerance - its laissez-faire attitude to soft drugs - and reflects the drift away from a long-held view of the Netherlands as a free-wheeling utopia.

For many tourists visiting Amsterdam the image endures - and smoking a joint in a canalside coffee shop ranks high on their to-do lists along with visiting cultural highlights like the Van Gogh Museum.
 

A lawyer for owners, Maurice Veldman, said he would file an appeal against the ruling by a judge at The Hague District court, which clears the way for the weed pass to be introduced in southern provinces on May 1.

The pass will roll out in the rest of the country -- including Amsterdam -- next year. It will turn coffee shops into private clubs with membership open only to Dutch residents and limited to 2,000 per shop.



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