Dutch towns plan to end drug tourism

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Border towns Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom want to shut down their coffee shops in an attempt to end drug tourism.

THE HAGUE—Coffee shops in Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom will close definitively 16 September.

The mayors of both towns want to put an end to the stream of 25,000 weekly drug tourists and to the "crimes related to trafficking and the consumption of drugs."

They announced the joint marajuana policy Thursday afternoon in Roosendaal.

Starting in October of last year the mayors started implementing less tolerant, stricter rules for coffee shops, and announced their intention to ultimately close them down.

The maximum amount of stock on hand was to be reduced; as was the maximum amount that could be sold at any one time.

Both cities will now forego these measures until 16 September, but will introduce stricter police controls in their place.

If a coffee shop violates the lower tolerance ruling it will be shut down after a written warning.

Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom assume that after closing the shops they’ll bring an end to drug tourism in their cities.

With fewer drug tourists the mayors hope that the market for illegal drugs will also become less interesting to dealers.

Lawyers advocating for the shops, Harrie Nieland and André Beckers, announced that there was nothing they could do to the fight the ruling for the time being.

“In September when the cities force the coffee shops to close, then we’ll come into the picture. It’s quite conceivable that we can obtain a court order to block the closings.”

Nieland puts the new marijuana ruling under quotation marks: “Coffee shops and the tolerance ruling are a known phenomenon in the Netherlands. If you want to change anything, you’ll have to do it in dialogue with national politicians.”

The consumption and possession of small amounts of cannabis has been decriminalised in The Netherlands since 1976, as has its sale in licensed coffee shops. But mass cultivation and large-scale sale is still forbidden.

ANP/AFP/Lila Lundquist/Expatica

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