Local authorities can legally bar tourists from entering coffeeshops selling soft drugs, the Netherlands' highest judicial authority and advisory body has said.
In a case brought by a coffeeshop in Maastricht, the Council of State ruled on Wednesday that the city was right to close the shop in 2006.
"The mayor argued convincingly that drug tourists are causing public order disturbances, and that applying the nationality criterion can be a solution."
In other words, the city was acting legally when it prevented foreign tourists from buying cannabis.
The verdict is expected to open the doors to widespread introduction by cities of the so-called "weed passes" for local residents, entitling them to enter coffeeshops. People without such a pass, like tourists, will not be allowed to go inside and buy soft drugs. The pass system has been approved by the Lower House of parliament, but experts say that there are legal obstacles to introducing it immediately. Dutch drug legislation - the Opium Act - will need to be changed first, they say.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide