Court rejects border towns coffeeshops’ case

16th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Six coffeeshops in Roosendaal and Bergen-op-Zoom were closed Wednesday after their application to challenge the mayoral orders to ban soft drugs was dismissed.

Breda – Six Dutch cannabis-vending coffeeshops near the Belgian border, under mayoral orders to stop selling soft drugs, were closed Wednesday after losing a court challenge, their lawyer said.

The shops in the southern municipalities of Roosendaal and Bergen-op-Zoom "have left their shutters down," Harry Nieland told AFP.

A Dutch judge on Tuesday rejected an application by the coffeeshops from two southern towns against their mayors' plans to stop them selling soft drugs.

The case had wrongly been brought before a civil court and should instead have been taken to an administrative tribunal, said the judge in Breda in the southern Netherlands.

In 2008, the mayors of Roosendaal and Bergen-op-Zoom announced eight coffeeshops near the borders to stop selling cannabis from Wednesday in a bid to ward off some 25,000 marijuana-smoking tourists who flood their communities every week.

They could continue operating as ordinary bars, and violation would be punishable by a five-year closure.

On Friday, six of the eight shops – two in Roosendaal and four in Bergen-op-Zoom – took the mayors to court last week for an order preventing their closure in the event of transgression, but a judge rejected their application on Tuesday.

Of the other two, which did not take part in the court challenge, one remained open on Wednesday but assured AFP by telephone that it was selling "only coffee".

Nieland said his clients were considering different options for filing a new challenge to the mayors' decision with an administrative tribunal.

The consumption and possession of small amounts of cannabis has been decriminalised in The Netherlands since 1976, as is its sale in licensed coffeeshops. Its cultivation remains forbidden.

AFP / Expatica

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