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Dutch agree 'drug drive-throughs'

VENLO, Netherlands -- Plans for coffee shops near the Dutch -German border -- dubbed "drug drive-throughs" by locals -- have been unveiled by a town in the Netherlands.

The proposals have been agreed in Venlo in an attempt to keep thousands of German drug tourists out of its centre, local officials told Reuters.

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It is legal to buy soft drugs for use in small quantities in Dutch coffee shops, which frequently offer numerous varieties of cannabis.

Elke Haanraadts, a Venlo town planner and spokeswoman for the project, told Reuters: "I think that the German people coming especially for their five grams of soft drugs will benefit. It's easier for them to buy it near the road and then go back again to Germany."

Officials in Venlo estimate that around five million Germans live near the town, which is two kilometres (just over a mile) from the border.

Many have crossed into the Netherlands to take advantage of the Dutch laws on soft drugs.

The new out-of-town coffee shops were approved at a council meeting in Venlo on Wednesday and are expected to open next year.

Haanraadts told Reuters Television that more than 60 illegal coffee shops had opened to cater for the tourists.

"We get a lot of letters from people who are really sick of the feeling of fear and people hanging around their houses and making a lot of noise," she said.

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