Thursday April 25th the Maastricht court ruled that the city’s mayor, Onno Hoes should not have closed coffeeshop Easy Going, on May 1st, 2012. Easy Going had refused to implement the weedpass, which limits the access to coffeeshops to Dutch residents.
The court considered that the motivation that was used by mayor Hoes was not sufficient. The weedpass introduced an indirect distinction on the basis of nationality. International conventions have established that everyone – regardless of nationality – should be treated equally. The mayor should have made clear why it could not be possible to achieve the same results (reduction of public nuisance) with less extreme measures. The court referred to the plan to spread coffeeshops to the edge of town. In another procedure, this plan has been presented by the city of Maastricht itself, and should have been tested before starting to discriminate on the basis of nationality. In short, a much too extreme tool has been employed much too soon.
The members of the Official Association of Maastricht Coffeeshops, VOCM, conclude that in the northern part of the country mayors do not maintain the criterium of residence, while it has been determined by the Minister of Justice that this should have been the case from January 1st, 2013, onwards. This shows that in practice, the maintenance of this criterium is not an obligation.
The illegal street market in Maastricht is flourishing. Street dealers seem to become ever more smart in avoiding the police, but they do cause lots of problems in the neighbourhood.
The 13 members of the VOCM will temporarily take the market out off the hands of the illegal dealers by opening their doors for all, including non-residents, on May 5th, 2013, which is Annual Liberation Day in The Netherlands. The goal of this action is to reduce public nuisance and protect the health of every cannabis consumer (’regardless their nationality).
By Marc Josemans, president VOCM