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Dutch coffee shops to challenge cannabis ban

THE HAGUE — Coffee shops in two Dutch towns near the Belgian border banned from selling cannabis — in order to prevent drug tourism — are to bring another court challenge against a ban, a court official said on Friday.

Two hearings are to be held before the district court in the southern Dutch city of Breda on October 2 — one dutch coffee shop logo sign cannabis marijuanabefore an administrative judge and another before a civil one, said the spokesman.

The mayors of Roosendaal and Bergen-op-Zoom, some 15 kilometres (about 9.3 miles) apart, announced last year that all eight coffee shops within their borders would be barred from selling cannabis from September 16.

The move was aimed at staving off some 25,000 marijuana-smoking tourists, mainly French and Belgian, who flood their communities every week.

Six of the coffee shops had lost an application before the same court against the mayors’ decision the day before the ban entered into force.

Only one of the eight affected coffee shops opened its doors on September 16, insisting it was selling “only coffee”.

The coffee shops can continue operating as ordinary bars or cafes, but violation of the drugs ban would be punishable by a five-year closure.

The consumption and possession of small amounts of cannabis have been decriminalised since 1976 in the Netherlands, where it is sold in about 700 licensed coffee shops.

The national Dutch government announced plans this month to limit drug tourism by reserving hundreds of cannabis-vending coffee shops for locals.

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