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Dutch towns close coffee-shops to ward off ‘drug tourists’

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Written by editor

THE HAGUE — Two Dutch towns said Thursday they planned to close their cannabis smoking coffee-shops after admitting that an influx of up to 25,000 French and Belgian “drug tourists” each week had be

THE HAGUE — Two Dutch towns said Thursday they planned to close their cannabis smoking coffee-shops after admitting that an influx of up to 25,000 French and Belgian “drug tourists” each week had become too much.

Local authorities in southwestern Roosendaal and Bergen-op-Doom announced they could no longer cope with the “drug tourists” whose presence they blamed for traffic congestion, crime and unlicensed dealing.

“Soft drug tourism is the motor of criminality linked to (harder) drugs,” they said in a joint statement. “It has an overwhelming negative effect on public order.”

All eight coffee-shops in the two towns will shut, with closures beginning in February 2009.

“The mayor of Roosendaal thinks we could close them all within two years,” town hall spokeswoman Marjolein Koppens told AFP.

Until then, all local coffee-shops will be forced to limit the sale of cannabis to two grammes (0.07 ounces) per customer per day instead of the current five grammes.

Liberal drugs laws in the Netherlands allow people to carry five grammes of marijuana on their person without being prosecuted.

Another border town, Terneuzen, announced Wednesday it would toughen its local by-laws on the sale of cannabis from May next year. Opening hours would be restricted and the amount each customer could buy would also be reduced.