Dutch cannabis cafes become private members' clubs
The measure, undertaken in one Dutch province, is meant to discourage drug tourism.Maastricht -- About 30 cannabis-vending coffee shops in the southern Dutch province of Limburg said Tuesday they would become private members' clubs from January 1 to eliminate the "nuisance" of drug tourism.
"We will transform the coffee shops from open establishments, accessible by all, to closed establishments of which clients need to be members," Maastricht mayor Gerd Leers told a press conference in the border town.
The coffee shops will issue membership cards for which the application procedure would take several days.
The measure, to be applied uniformly by all coffee shops in the province, which borders Belgium and Germany, would seek to "discourage the majority of drug tourists," said the mayor.
"We have been fighting for years against the nuisance brought here by the Belgians, the French and the Germans," he added.
Some four million foreigners travel to Limburg every year to buy cannabis, according to a municipal official.
From January 1 next year, the province will limit the sale of cannabis in its coffee shops to three grammes per person per day.
Dutch law allows the consumption and possession of up to five grammes of cannabis per individual, but prohibits the cultivation and mass retail of the soft drug.
Some 700 so-called coffee shops countrywide have special licences to sell marijuana but are allowed to keep no more than 500 grammes on site.
Several Dutch municipalities have recently announced plans to close all or part of the coffee shops within their borders, partly to discourage crime and drug tourism.