Maastricht’s Pot Hangover

Aug 14 2012 @ 10:56am

by Gwynn Guilford

Maastricht is a Dutch town that was famous for its marijuana cafes. Zoe Chace and Robert Smith explore how the creation of the Eurozone impacted the town:

The single currency, along with all the other reforms that make it so easy to cross borders in the Euro Zone, led to an influx of foreign tourists coming to Maastricht to get high. "The name of our city is synonymous with cannabis," Onno Hoes, Maastricht's mayor, says. Hoes is unhappy about this. He says that the people who come to buy marijuana violate traffic laws, litter, and don't spend money anywhere but coffee shops.

This led to the controversial passage of a law making it legal to sell marijuana only to Dutch citizens. But this modified prohibition has brought its own negative economic consequences:

Today, "maybe 30 or 40 people come into the shop" every day, says Stephan Korsten, who owns a coffee shop. That's down from 1,500 a day before the new rules were put in place. Most of the coffee shops in the city have shut down altogether. "Our money is allowed to go to the Spanish banks," says the owner of another shop. "But the Spanish pot smokers are not allowed to come to the Dutch coffee shops any more."

Meanwhile, the illegal market for drugs is gaining popularity. Drug dealers like are selling marijuana again—not only to foreigners, but also Dutch residents who don't want to register at the coffeeshops.

Previous Dish coverage of the demographics behind support for the Netherlands' revised marijuana law here.