Court rejects cannabis policy challenge

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On Friday, a court in The Hague ruled against 19 coffeeshop owners and other interested parties who are against the introduction of the compulsory ‘weed pass’. The pass will mean that ‘coffeeshops’ – outlets which are allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis to the public - will have to become private clubs, whose members have to be Dutch residents. Coffeeshops in the south of the Netherlands are going to have to introduce the weed pass on 1 May.

Immediately after the ruling, lawyer Maurice Veldman announced that he intends to appeal. The coffeeshop owners believe the weed pass will force them to violate the privacy of their customers, who would have to give private details in order to become members.

No discrimination
The court ruled that the legislation does not discriminate and is not disproportionately strict. The ruling pointed out that many more important interests are involved in coffeeshop policy and that the coffeeshop owners’ objections were “not relevant” when considering the legality of the policy.

The court argued that the new policy is intended to reduce drugs tourism and crime: this aim is so important that the government has the right to implement far-reaching measures.

In addition, the ruling states, the government regulates its coffeeshop policy at national and not local level. The coffeeshop owners had not proved that less far-reaching measures would have the same effect as those which are to be implemented in the south of the Netherlands on 1 May.

As of 2013, the new legislation will apply to the entire country. Coffeeshops that refuse to abide by the new law, risk being closed.