Maastricht Mayor to open seven drug bars on Belgian, German border
May 30, 2006 Leave a Comment
Maastricht Mayor Gerd Leers is pressing ahead with his plan for cannabis boulevards. He yesterday announced he wishes to move seven drug bars from the city centre to locations along the borders with Belgium and Germany.
Maastricht city centre has 15 ‘coffee shops’, as the tolerated cannabis bars are popularly known in the Netherlands. Eight of these will remain where they are; seven are to be moved. Residents of the locations for the new shops received a letter yesterday from Leers, who dubs his scheme ‘Coffee Corner’. The locals are speaking of three ‘drug boulevards’, with two or three ‘coffee shops’ each.
Large parking areas for the border shops are to be developed for foreign customers, according to the mayor. Around 30 percent of the visitors are expected to come from the south (particularly Belgians, French, Italians and Spaniards), 15 percent from the east (mainly Germans) and 15 percent from the west (mostly Belgians).
Leers expects that moving the ‘coffee shops’ out of the built-up area will make them easier to control and lessen the nuisance caused by foreign drug tourists in the city.
Venlo, a town located north of Maastricht along the German boarder, earlier moved two ‘coffee shops’ to the border. Last week, the mayor of Venlo acknowledged that this had resulted in a significant increase in drug tourists.
Only last week, Belgian administrators warned against moving the Maastricht ‘coffee shops’ to the border. Among other measures, they threatened to place cameras along the border and register the car license plates of visiting drug tourists.
Justice Minister Donner is not pleased with foreign drug tourism. He is developing a system that allows access to ‘coffee shops’ to members only. It would not be possible for foreigners to become members, thereby making it impossible for them to buy drugs. Within Donner’s Christian democrats party (CDA), Leers is seen as a dissident regarding cannabis policy.
Source: NIS News, ANP, 30 May 2006