Court to Pot Tourists: Get Your Weed at Home

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An Italian tourist lights up a joint in a Dutch coffeeshop. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

In an important test case, the European Court of Justice has ruled that Dutch authorities can ban coffee shops from selling marijuana to foreigners.

The ruling comes nearly five years after the southern Dutch city of Maastricht began issuing “weed passports” to local citizens in an effort to prevent foreign tourists from entering establishments that sell marijuana. Many of those tourists drive to Holland from Belgium and Germany with the express purpose of getting stoned. They apparently represent more of a nuisance than local stoners, as the tourists frequently wind up in police custody following drug-fueled altercations and public displays of indecency.

(Read TIME’s article “Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense.”)

Marc Michael Josmans, the owner of Maastricht coffee shop Easy Going, argued that the passport policy breached European Union laws on free movement of goods and services. He also claimed that it discriminated against foreigners by denying them the chance to purchase pot-free food and drink.

(See a video of Amsterdam tourists riding the infamous Beer Bike.)

However, Thursday’s ruling said the restrictions do in fact comply with E.U. law.

“That restriction is justified by the objective of combating drug tourism and the accompanying public nuisance,” the court said. (via BBC.)

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