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Foreign tourists to be barred from Dutch coffee shops

Foreign tourists to be barred from Dutch coffee shops

For years it has been seen as a rite of passage for teenagers from across the UK, but the weekend break to the Netherlands to enjoy cannabis-selling coffee shops has taken a serious blow.

From January, coffee shops in the southern provinces of Limburg, North-Brabant and Zeeland will be designated as private members clubs, effectively barring foreign visitors.

The lucrative trade in the capital Amsterdam will, for now, be unaffected.

Under the new policy, licensed coffee shops in the south of the country will be considered private clubs with a maximum of 2,000 members.

Each member, who must be over 18-years-of-age, will be asked to carry an identity card.

The measures, which will become law on January 1st in the south of the country, will come into force in the rest of the country - including Amsterdam - in January 2013.

There are about 220 coffee shops in Amsterdam, with a further 450 spread across the country.

Despite complaints banning foreigners was prejudiced; the European Court of Justice supported the decision.

A ruling stated it was justified “by the objective of combating drug tourism and the accompanying public nuisance”.

Though technically illegal, the Netherlands decriminalised the possession of less than .18 ounce of cannabis in 1976 under a tolerance policy.