(CN) – To combat the nuisances of drug tourism, a Dutch city can ban foreigners from “coffee shops” that serve marijuana, Europe’s high court ruled, affirming the July opinion of a court adviser.
Maastricht, just across the border from Belgium and Germany, has a number of cafes or “coffee shops” that serve marijuana and hashish.
Although cannabis is not officially legal in the Netherlands, Dutch authorities tolerate small-scale consumption.
In an effort to stem drug tourism, Maastricht passed a rule allowing only Dutch citizens to patronize the establishments.
About 70 percent of the patrons in Maastricht’s marijuana cafes are not Dutch, and one coffee-shop operator challenged the ordinance after his business was shut down for serving non-Dutch citizens of the European Union.
The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that a restriction on the freedom to provide services was justified to combat “drug tourism and the accompanying public nuisance.”
The court pointed out the difficulty of controlling the nationalities that a coffee shop can serve, and that cafes not offering marijuana remain free from restriction.
The mayor of Maastricht had said that the sale of marijuana caused public nuisance and crime, and increased the sale of hard drugs.
Some Dutch politicians are troubled by the rise of gangs to control production in the country’s black market. Belgian, German and French governments have also expressed concern over the illicit export of cannabis. Court advocate Yves Bot advised the high court in July to uphold Maastricht’s law.