Town wants to ban pot sales to foreigners

Aug. 18, 2010 at 9:33 AM

MAASTRICHT, Netherlands, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Officials in the Dutch border town of Maastricht say they are hopeful the European Court of Justice will allow them to ban the sale of marijuana to foreigners.

Maastricht's struggle to make recreational drug-use a Dutch-only policy runs counter to European Union free-trade laws, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Legal scholars say the case is being closely watched as a test of whether the European Court of Justice will allow an exception to the block's trade rules.

Last month, the court's advocate general issued a finding that narcotics, including cannabis, are not goods like other products, and their sale does not benefit from the freedom of movement guaranteed by European law.

Until that finding, former Maastricht Mayor Gerd Leers said he saw little hope for the ban.

Leers and other city officials say the country's drug policy draws thousands of "drug tourists" to border towns like Maastricht.

Maastricht now has a crime rate three times that of similar-size Dutch cities farther from the border.

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