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Dutch Government Passes Law Limiting Sale of Pot to Foreigners

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on December 28, 2011 6:01 AM

Want to plan a marijuana trip? Go to California! Oh, wait, technically federal law still bans marijuana sales. OK, then go to the Netherlands!

The Netherlands' marijuana laws make the country the envy of weed-lovers everywhere. Foreign visitors often trek over to the nation to enjoy legal joints.

Alas, those days are almost over. The Dutch government recently passed new laws that limit pot sales to foreigners.

The new rules, which effectively eliminate many tourists' reasons to visit the Netherlands in the first place, will come into effect soon. Some parts of the country will feel the brunt of the new laws starting January 1, 2012. The rules will hit Amsterdam in 2013.

The new rules limit sales of marijuana to Netherlands residents over the age of 18. Residents must register with a coffee shop and enroll as a member. Only registered members will be allowed to purchase the drug.

Marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands. However, coffee shop patrons can legally purchase up to 5 grams of the drug.

The new rules will probably reduce the total amount of marijuana sold and purchased in the country. It will also likely reduce the amount of snack foods purchased by tourists and residents with the "munchies." Yet even with the new restrictions, Dutch laws on marijuana are still more lenient than regulations found in the states.

Here, marijuana is illegal under federal and state laws. There are medical marijuana laws in some states that allow patients to buy cannabis with a prescription.

These marijuana dispensaries are still against federal law. There is no provision under the federal drug statutes that permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes. This is why individuals who use medical marijuana may still be subject to federal penalties even if they fully comply with their state's laws.

Besides the new enrollment requirements, the Netherlands' new marijuana laws will also restrict coffee shops to a maximum of 2,000 members starting in 2013. In 2014, the new laws will also prohibit shops from opening within 350 meters of a school, reports Reuters.

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