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Tourists in Holland smoked out

April 27, 2012

A court in The Hague has rejected a plea by 19 Dutch coffee shop owners: As of May first it will be more difficult for foreigners to buy cannabis in The Netherlands.

A man smoking cannabis
Image: DW

A Dutch district court on Friday threw out a bid by coffee shop owners to fight the introduction of a "cannabis card" aimed at stopping foreigners from buying the drugs in the country.

The center-right government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte moved to introduce the cannabis card, reserved for Dutch residents above the age of 18. It will be obligatory when visiting one of the country's 670 licensed coffee shops.

The new cannabis-for-locals-only law is due to come into effect on May 1 in four provinces bordering Germany and Belgium and in the rest of the country in 2013.

Dutch residents have long complained about the impact of drug tourism including pollution, traffic jams, noise at night and a proliferation of hard-drug dealers on the streets.

The owners of 19 coffee shops had lodged their case against what they described as "discriminatory measures."

But the court found that the cannabis card "does not violate the basic principles of the anti-discrimination law."

The plaintiffs said they would appeal the court decision.

rg/mz (Reuters, AFP, dpa)