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Ruling: temporary coffeeshop licences are allowed

Coffeeshop licences may be issued temporarily and reissued after this period has expired. This follows from a ruling by the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State in the appeal lodged by the mayor of Roermond municipality against the Court's April 2021 ruling.

The ruling could have far-reaching consequences. Municipalities will have more options when granting permits. For instance, it will be possible to conduct a new 'Bibob' integrity test (an investigation of an applicant's integrity under the Dutch Act on Public Administration Probity Screening) after the permit’s expiry date. For operators, the ruling could lead to more uncertainty if their licences are granted for a fixed period from now on.

The Council of State ruled that it is possible to grant fixed-term licences for coffeeshops because there are ‘compelling reasons of general interest’, namely public order, public safety, and public health.

On the same day, the Council of State also ruled in an issue about a coffeeshop in Apeldoorn. The ruling is that ‘objections and appeals against a tolerance permit can be lodged by both local residents and the coffeeshop owner. Objections may also be lodged against the refusal or withdrawal of such a tolerance permit.’ This is a nuance of previous case law on tolerance permits and offers more legal protection to all concerned.

Annemarie Drahmann, Associate Professor of constitutional and administrative law at Leiden University, referred to them as ‘two interesting rulings, which offer legal certainty. The incorporation of a time limit is allowed by the Council of State. That gives authorities the possibility to issue the tolerance permit and the operating licence at the same time and to build in a reappraisal opportunity after a number of years.'

This does not mean that coffeeshop owners who are currently operational will end up in total uncertainty. 'They are entitled to a certain transition period, especially if they have just made major investments in their business. But new permits and licences can have a time limit attached to them to allow for future policy reviews,' Drahnmann told the Dutch newspaper NRC (€).

Image Crystalweed byannabis via Unsplash

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