(CN) – A Dutch city can legally ban foreigners from its marijuana cafes in order to combat drug tourism, an adviser to Europe’s high court ruled.
Drug tourism “threatens even the European Union’s internal security,” said Advocate Yves Bot, adviser to the Court of Justice, in a statement released Thursday by the court
Maastricht, just across the border from Belgium and Germany, has a number of “coffee shops,” also called marijuana cafes, that cater to people seeking marijuana and hashish, which is legal in the Netherlands. According to news reports, 70 percent of the patrons in Maastricht’s marijuana cafes are not Dutch.
Due to alleged problems with drug tourists, Maastricht decided to allow only Dutch citizens to patronize the establishments.
Marc Michel Josemans, a coffee shop operator, challenged this rule after his business was shut down for serving non-Dutch citizens of the European Union.
Advocate Bot ruled that European Union laws governing the freedom of movement do not cover narcotics. EU citizens in Dutch coffee shops run the risk of exporting or importing cannabis products to member states where it is illegal, he wrote.
Holland is the only EU country where personal use of marijuana is legal. Although sales are not officially legal, it is tolerated by Dutch authorities, though it’s supposed to be limited to no more than 5 grams per person per day.
The cultivation and wholesale markets for cannabis products are not legislated or permitted in the Netherlands, despite the drug’s legality. Some Dutch politicians are concerned with the rise of gangs to control the black market for production there.
The adviser for the Luxembourg-based court said that member states may set their own measures to maintain public order in their territory. Drug tourism presents a genuine threat, Advocate Bot wrote, not only in Maastricht but across the EU.
Drug tourism fuels criminal activities, which threaten the security of the entire union, Bot concluded. Though the opinion is not binding, the high court’s rulings often follow adviser recommendations.