THE HAGUE, Netherlands – A Dutch court on Wednesday ordered the government to compensate owners of cannabis-selling cafes who say they lost money because of measures aimed at stamping out drug tourism.
The court said that turning coffee shops in the southern Netherlands into private member-only clubs last year deterred not only foreigners but also Dutch customers, and ordered compensation for the cafe owners. The amount will be settled later.
The decision was the latest skirmish in a long-running legal battle between the government that wants officially tolerated coffee shops to sell cannabis only to locals, and owners of the cafes who insist they should be allowed to sell to anybody.
Cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but police turn a blind eye to possession of small amounts and it is sold openly in coffee shops. Large-scale growers are prosecuted.
Michael Veling, a spokesman for the Dutch Union of Cannabis Retailers, said the group was disappointed by the parts of the ruling that upheld anti-drug-tourism measures, and would appeal.
In a written reaction, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice called the judgment “a powerful underpinning of the present policy” and said it saw grounds to appeal the ruling that said turning coffee shops into private clubs was too harsh and unnecessary.
Under a government policy change that came into force May 1 last year in southern provinces close to the Dutch borders with Germany and Belgium, only holders of a “weed pass” are allowed to buy cannabis. The measure took aim at problems caused by thousands of foreigners who pour across the borders each year to buy drugs.
The government scrapped the pass in November, but continued its policy of allowing coffee shops to sell drugs only to Dutch residents.
However, it said local authorities would be responsible for enforcing the measure. Amsterdam, whose scores of coffee shops are a major tourist draw, immediately said it would continue to allow tourists to buy weed in the cafes.
By Mike Corder, The Associated Press
INTRO BY JOHN DONOVAN: THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT TAX DODGING, AN ACTIVITY IN WHICH SHELL HOLDS A BLACK BELT AND HAS DONE SO FOR MANY DECADES. NOTE THAT GERRIT ZALM IS ON THE ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC BOARD OF DIRECTORS. HE IS ALSO THE CHAIRMAN OF ANOTHER ALLEGED TAX DODGER, ABN AMBRO BANK N.V. HE IS UP FOR RE-APPOINTMENT TO THE RDS PLC BOARD NEXT MONTH. OBVIOUSLY A PERFECT FIT.
While the Netherlands has its own image as a tax haven, Dutch multinationals are masters at setting up their own companies in tax-free zones, the Volkskrant reported at the weekend.
Shell has 85 subsidiaries in six tax-free zones, while ABN Amro has 54 in five. Privately-held oil trading group Vitol has 17. Most companies, including Vitol, are reluctant to give out much information about their activities in tax havens, the VK said.
ABN Amro, now fully owned by the Dutch state, is a little more forthcoming. It says the tax haven subsidiaries are connected to special investment funds and investments in ships and there is ‘no question’ of tax evasion.
Others, such as Akzo Nobel, Unilever and Philips, said they are in the process of liquidating their interests in tax havens.
Shell told the paper it supplies all necessary information to tax offices and denies that the Cayman Islands and Bermuda are tax-free zones under OECD definitions.
This article was re-edited after its initial publication.
While Ireland hums and haws over bank debt we learn from Transport Minister Leo Varadkar that “difficulties” remain in the talks with the ECB on refinancing the bailout, though he remains hopeful a solution will be found. I would guess that eventually a deal will be made that will be nothing more than a dressed up comical illusion.
So we are now refinancing the bailout, does this mean we pay double?
In the meantime we hear
Iceland’s refusal to repay depositors legal
Iceland was within its rights not to repay billions of euro to the United Kingdom and Dutch governments, who were forced to compensate depositors after an Icelandic bank collapsed at the height of the global financial crisis, a court has ruled.
The decision was taken by the court of the European Free Trade Association (Efta), which ruled that Iceland had not broken depositor protection laws by refusing to compensate people who had invested in Landsbanki’s Icesave online banking accounts.
What a shame the Government of Ireland lack the courage of of our friends in Iceland.
Why do the lack the courage …in simple terms the ECB says pay up or else…No more funding
A ban on anyone except Dutch nationals smoking cannabis in cafe’s across the country has effectively erased the last remaining reason to visit the Netherlands.
The waning popularity of clogs, tulips, windmills and omelettes coupled with the fact that most of Rembrandt’s work seems to be hanging in British Galleries means that is effectively the end of the road for Dutch tourism.
If you take away the weed then Amsterdam is much like any other city except that you’ve got more chance of being run over by a tram than most and the beer (which is mostly foam) is served in contact lenses instead of pint glasses.
Some of the cannabis retailers are expecting a 90% drop in sales which can lead to two possible outcomes; either they become drug dealers or they burn the entire crop and instantly convert the Low Countries into the world’s largest bong.
The resulting ‘Hooch Fog’ would be so massive that aircraft would literally fall out of the sky because their baked pilots would be too busy raiding the kitchen to worry about landing.
This action by the Dutch government does seem a little perplexing in the light of the fact that there is a recession and everyone is scrabbling about for every dam penny they can get.
Posters advertising ‘Tulip and Clog’ stag parties are not expected to have much effect on the situation.
Dutch authorities have decided to approve a motion abandoning a law under which it is a crime to insult God.
A majority of parties in parliament said the blasphemy law was no longer relevant in the 21st Century.
The legislation, introduced in the 1930s, has not been invoked in the last half century.
Freedom of speech is a much-cherished right in the liberal and traditionally tolerant
The BBC’s Anna Holligan, in The Hague, says that there was much debate about the issue after a Dutch court ruled that the far-right anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders should be allowed to criticise Islam, even if his outspoken opinions offended many Muslims.
In 2008, a coalition government decided against repealing the blasphemy law in order to maintain support from an orthodox Christian political party.