Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Landmark ruling on tolerance agreements for Dutch ‘coffeeshops’

PhD candidate Demy Jongkind and Associate Professor Annemarie Drahmann – both part of the Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law – have been interviewed by the Kenniscentrum Europa Decentraal (KED) on the Dutch Services Act (DW) and cannabis tolerance policy.

In December 2023, the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Dutch Council of State issued a ruling on the cannabis tolerance policy in the municipality of Roermond. Coffeeshop owners require both a permit under the Dutch Opium Act and an operating licence (a permit for catering establishments) under the General Municipal Bylaw (APV). There was a significant lack of clarity about the relationship between these two permits, and especially in terms of the extent to which the European Services Directive should be factored into decisions on granting these permits.

The crux of the dispute was that two current coffeeshop owners were granted permits for definite periods of time but believed they were entitled to indefinite permits. In short, the Council of State ruled that the type of catering business is a relevant factor in decisions concerning catering establishment permits. It was clear that the permit application was for a coffeeshop and the potential impact of this kind of establishment on the surrounding area. Maintaining public order is a legitimate interest and valid grounds for a municipality to impose restrictions under the DW, as it is a compelling reason of public interest. The Council of State therefore ruled that both the number and duration of operating licences could be limited.

In addition, the Council of State ruled that there is a second basis in the DW for limiting the validity period for licences: the number of licences is also limited. That consideration still raises some questions. For instance, does it mean there should also be room for competition? The ruling provides no clear-cut answer to that.

More about this development

Read the full article (in Dutch) here

Photo: Alex Belogub through Unsplash

This website uses cookies.  More information.