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Minister Sympathetic on Moving Cannabis Bars

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin is not against Maastricht Mayor Geerd Leers' decision to move the city's cannabis bars to the Belgian border. The minister will try to convince Belgium and also Germany on the decision.

Maastricht city centre has 15 'coffee shops,' as the Dutch drugs bars are known. Leers has reached agreement with eight coffee shops to move to the city outskirts, to three locations near the Belgian and German borders.

Hirsch Ballin said in a reaction that the plan fits in with the cabinet's policy of keeping coffee shops away from schools and reducing nuisance caused by them. He will hold talks with Belgium and Germany, who fear the move will cause increased nuisance from the tolerant Dutch drugs policy.

Hirsch Ballin does agree that Maastricht must not be allowed to "deposit" its nuisance from foreign drugs tourists in Belgium and Germany. Outgoing Belgian Premier Guy Verhofstadt earlier warned the Dutch government to restrain Leers. Verhofstadt is surprised that Maastricht has now announced its move without first holding talks with the national governments. His role in Belgian politics is however played out since Christian democrat Yves Leterme won the elections last week in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking north of Belgium.

Leterme leads the sister party of the Dutch Christian democrats (CDA), to which both Hirsch Ballin and Leers belong. Leers is however seen as a CDA dissident on cannabis policy, for some time urging cultivation of the drugs under state supervision: The CDA wants to maintain the policy of tolerating only selling and not production in the Netherlands.

The agreement on relocating the coffee shops will be debated in the city council on 26 June. It is almost certain to be adopted. Formally, it is a temporary measure. Belgium could at an extreme decide to take the Netherlands to the European Court of Justice. Verhofstadt argues the Netherlands would be violating the Schengen treaty if Leers' plans go ahead. But a friendly diplomatic solution is more likely.

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Source: Dutch News nisnews.nl
Contact: Dutch News in English - Netherlands Info Services
Copyright: Dutch News
Website: Dutch news - Minister Sympathetic on Moving Cannabis Bars
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