Coffeeshops Open, Drug Dealers Vanish

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Thirteen coffeeshops in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht had previously announced that they would once again open their doors for non-Dutch citizens starting May 5th (Dutch Liberation Day). The coffeeshops have a court ruling in their favor, though they have faced opposition from the municipality leading to this day. Before the weed pass legislation, Maastricht was a popular place for Belgians, Germans and French marijuana smokers to buy their wares.

[typography font=”Droid Serif” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#ff830f”]Coffeeshops and the law versus the city[/typography]

Last week, the court in Maastricht ruled that the city’s mayor (Onno Hoes) did not have due cause when he closed the coffeeshop Easy Going last year. The mayor should have demonstrated that less expansive measures would come short in tackling drug-related crime.

The city’s coffeeshops saw this verdict as justification to open their doors to everyone on May 5th. The municipality immediately sent out warnings, stating that coffeeshops who would indeed sell marijuana to foreigners

5th of May Liberation Day
Large crowds formed in front of coffeeshop Easy Going

would face charges. They would not share how the enforcement would take place. A spokesperson of the municipality stated that all their methods would “remain secret”.

[typography font=”Droid Serif” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#ff830f”]A day without problems[/typography]

With Liberation Day coming to an end, the coffeeshops have seen a massive increase in customers (Many from Belgium) and the municipality or law enforcement have not responded in any way . In the meantime,  the otherwise prominent street dealers have disappeared from the scene.

The city’s mayor is currently taking a week-long holiday and it is not unthinkable that measures will still be taken against the coffeeshops. All we know is that it will be an uphill battle for the mayor, who will first need to find a basis for his views; whereas the coffeeshops have the court ruling, most of the citizens and police observations on their side.

Update 3: Yesterday only one raid took place, at coffeeshop Mississippi. The coffeeshops will remain open to all for as long as they can. The municipality will probably take action again. During the raid of Mississippi, 4 or 5 drug dealers stood by cheering, eyewitnesses say. They were heard shouting: “Cocaine, heroin, weed. We have it all!” in the direction of the police force, without a response from their end.

Update 2: Police have taken action against coffeeshops on May 6th.  10 police vans were used in the raids, and at least one coffeeshop owner has been arrested; at the moment of the raid, there were 15 non-Dutch citizens in his coffeeshop.  At this moment it is uncertain what the policy will be in the following days. Stay tuned!

Update 1: Coffeeshop access is restricted to visitors from neighboring countries, Belgium and Germany.