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EUR: Dutch border towns to shut marijuana cafes

05 Mar 2009 10:38 PM

THE HAGUE, March 5 AFP - Two Dutch towns say their eight cannabis "coffee shops" will be closed within the next six months to ward off the 25,000 marijuana-smoking tourists who flood their communities every week.

The towns of Roosendaal and Bergen-op-Zoom, which are near the border with Belgium, said in a joint statement the closures would take effect on September 16.

The move was being taken to "put an end to the nuisance and crime related to trafficking and the consumption of drugs" generated by the 25,000 tourists, a statement said.

The mayors had announced last October their intention to withdraw the licences of the coffee shops over security concerns.

At the time, a Roosendaal town hall spokeswoman said the coffee shops would be closed within two years.

The consumption and possession of small amounts of cannabis has been decriminalised in The Netherlands since 1976, as is its sale in licensed coffee shops. But its mass cultivation and large-scale sale is still forbidden.