Keep coffee shops for locals: commission

3rd July 2009, Comments 0 comments

Measure will be considered by the national government in a re-evaluation of its soft-drug policies.

The Hague – Dutch coffee shops that sell cannabis should should cater mainly for local people and not bulk-buying drugs tourists from abroad, a government commission proposed Thursday.

"Coffee shops should again become what they were originally meant to be: vending points for local users and not large-scale suppliers to consumers from neighbouring countries," said the body.

"In some aspects, the situation has gotten out of hand," it added.

The commission was set up in February to advise the government in a re-evaluation of soft-drug policy, in large part due to an influx of German, French and Belgian drugs tourists in border areas.

The government should consider turning coffee shops, establishments with special licences to sell marijuana, into private members' clubs, it recommended.

This has already been done in the southern Limburg province, which announced recently its coffee shops would in future sell soft drugs only to patrons with membership cards.

And last September, Roosendaal and Bergen-op-Zoom, two other border councils, announced in March the closure from September of all eight their coffee shops in a bid to curb the "nuisance" of 25,000 drug tourists per week.

The Netherlands decriminalised the consumption and possession of under five grammes of cannabis in 1976, though its cultivation remains illegal.

There are some 700 licensed coffee shops, allowed to stock no more than 500 grams of cannabis at a time.

A coffee shop owner will go on trial in November for allegedly storing more than the allowed amount of cannabis on site in what is being seen as a test case.

The commission said Thursday it supported neither the banning nor the full legalisation of cannabis.

Its report will form the basis of a re-evaluation government drug policy, due to be presented to parliament in September, justice ministry spokesman Wim van der Weegen told AFP.

AFP / Expatica

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