Tourist Drug Ban in the Netherlands

As of May 1, it is illegal for foreigners to buy soft drugs in three border provinces of the Netherlands. This new constraint is especially restrictive in Maastricht, which lies only 20 miles from the larger German city of Aachen and only 60 miles from Brussels, Belgium. Before May 1, foreign “drug tourists” flocked to the 14 “coffee houses” in the city, paying €3 or so for a joint and lighting up (since this activity is illegal in neighboring countries). In protest against the law, all 14 houses have closed.

While the law reduces industry demand, I doubt that it will mean the industry’s complete demise. I expect competition will lead some of the houses to reopen, while others will be closed permanently. The industry will be smaller — fewer firms serving fewer customers. Since I see no reason for average cost to change, surviving firms will look very much as they do now: small shops, each with the same size crowd as before. This does impose a cost on Dutch tokers: With fewer shops, they will have to travel further to toke up.

Edmund Charles Davis-Quinn

Why would this really be an issue, the much bigger scandal is that marijuana is still illegal around the world when so, so many legal drugs are much, much more dangerous.

Mike B

Why would a town do such a thing??? In fact wouldn't they be more disposed to do the exact opposite...ban drugs for local residents, but allow it for foreigners? Pennsylvania has taken that approach with fireworks, licensing scores of stores that are only permitted to sell to out of state residents. Seriously, in this age of shrinking European budgets, why are communities voting to deprive themselves of crucial tax revenue? It's almost as if Europe wants to to bankrupt.


- the towns didn't decide, it was the central government that decided upon this new regulations.

- drugs tourism is causing more trouble than the economic benefits. There are lots of drug runners on the streets, misbehaving in traffic, dealing hard drugs, fighting with each other, and harassing local residents.


Potentially more devastating for the industry is the fact that Dutch users will need to register and get a "weed pass" to be able to consume legally. Not surprisingly, many of them are reluctant to do so.


As a Dutch citizen my real problem with this new law is that street dealers will return and will blur (by usually being able to provide both) the now clear line we have between soft (marijuana) and hard drugs (cocaine, XTC). Also there are quite a few rules and regulations the shops must abide and therefore customers know they are getting a good and safe product.

There are also some privacy and discrimination issues at play.

Legalize and regulate (even tax it)!


This only benefits the criminals. You don't remove the demand for drugs, just the avenue for safe and regulated consumption. Pure populist stupidity. I don't even smoke myself (I live in NL though) but I think anyone in this, or any country really, should have safe and regulated ways for enjoying whatever they like (within certain constraints) and let's face it, marijuana is hardly that dangerous.

Stupid politics.


Just in time for a recession in the Netherlands (plus a collapse of the government). Well played, Dutch.


You're not taking all factors into consideration.

First, why would the price remain the same? They will have to increase prices due to selling less (90% of turnover of some shops is from tourists), and the gangs that supply the shops will jack up their prices to supply as a result of lost volume too! So prices could triple!

Second, what about the shop owners that disregard the law and allow everyone to continue partaking?

Thirdly and most importantly, the law doesn't go nationwide until next year, AFTER an election is held and could result in the law being rescinded altogether due to popular pressure.

Toke it easy,


"""In protest against the law, all 14 houses have closed. """" that the official economist view? Could they have had future revenue concerns?


No, they really closed in protest of the law. An important fact that has been left out here though, is that they only closed for three hours. They all reopened the same day (as planned).


Reading this i basically had the same reaction as Mike but after reading Richards post on how it causes more trouble then gain i hav to agree with this decision.

Thomas Capp

You're an economist right? If so then you should know that this can potentially be a huge blow to the Dutch. Simply put what separates the Netherlands from any other country in the Western world sans is the legal availability of pot. Besides that, what else do the Dutch have that can't be found in any other country. Sure they may have canals, but so do plenty other countries. They have Van Gohh, but France has the Mona Lisa. Weed funnels tourism which funds everything else.

Those same museums that would have never been visited, are now visited. Those hotels, and restaurants that are probably in excess to handle tourists will lose business and maybe go out of business.

The best example we would have in the U.S. is if Vegas was to close its doors to gambling and sports booking.


Wow, all the talk about people going to Amsterdam to buy and smoke marijuana and now it is moderated. I believe that this is a great step to take in order to stop the people who only visit the provinces for the relaxed smoking policy. Only time will tell how the shops will prevail.


I find this to be an odd ban, considering the EU's open borders.

Ali H

It's sad to see this all happening at all, coming from Scotland to the netherlands I saw a big difference in the drug users here.. Having it available in shops is most defiantly the way to go, as was mentioned previously, this will see a rise in price and of street dealers.. I don't know where I stand in all this as I'm not officially a Dutch person yet , I'm still Scottish in the eyes of the law but I have a bsn number and insurance so I am legal to be here, will I be allowed to get one of these passes if they do indeed come into being? Does anyone know where I can find out more info on this please?