Amsterdam: Coffeeshops by schools must close during the day, or relocate

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The Amsterdam municipality is allowed to order coffeeshops in a 25 meter radius around schools to be closed during the day on weekdays or to relocate, the court in the city ruled on Friday.

The municipality ordered the first coffeeshops to close their doors on schooldays per January 1st, 2014, in an effort to discourage the use of soft drugs among kids. Fourteen coffeeshop owners appealed against this decision. They argued that it does not have the desired effect - they already don't sell drugs to minors - and that they were given too little time to adjust to the new hours.

The court ruled that the municipality's decision falls in its power in this area, as despite the toleration policy, the sale of soft drugs is still illegal. The court also found that the coffeeshops were given enough advance warning of the new so-called distance criterion.

On this new criterion, the municipality wants to eventually close 26 coffeeshops. This will be done in four phases, starting with the limited opening hours. While the coffeeshop owners' appeal only touched the opening hours, the court believes that the municipality can proceed to final closure.

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