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A woman smoking marijuana at an Amsterdam cafe in February 2007. (Getty Images)

Dude, It's The Cars: Parking Problems May Kill Pot Tourism In The Netherlands

Apr 3, 2012

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Mark Memmott

Fairly deep into today's New York Times report about a push by lawmakers in the Netherlands to make it illegal for coffee shops there to sell marijuana and hashish to foreigners is this explanation:

"The impetus for changing the policy originated with, of all things, a parking shortage. In the southern city of Maastricht, sandwiched between the German and Belgian borders, hundreds of drug tourists drive in daily from elsewhere in Europe to purchase marijuana, creating an infuriating traffic nuisance.

"Spotting an opportunity, clandestine dealers have begun offering foreign drivers the option of buying their cannabis without ever leaving their cars. Even local residents who support the coffee shops are unhappy that drugs are back on the streets."

Coffee shop owners are trying to keep the government from stopping the "pot tourism" trade, but as of now the plan is for shops in "three southern provinces" to become members-only clubs starting May 1 and for "the rest of the country's coffee shops ... to follow suit on Jan. 1, 2013," the Times says.

Of course, some Dutch authorities have been talking about doing this for a couple years and it hasn't happened yet. Gothamist adds that "the Cannabis Retailers Association, comprised of the country's 680 coffee shops, has filed a lawsuit that's expected to be reviewed in the coming weeks, and Amsterdam's mayor even opposes the change."

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