According to the Vereniging Officiele Coffeeshops Maastricht (VOCM), there were 31 coffee shops in Maastricht in 1993, a population that dropped to 16 in 2006. A law that went into effect this past spring in three southern border provinces — including Limburg where Maastricht is located — has essentially closed all of the coffee houses in Maastricht.
As I understand the law after reading a few articles and chatting with my Dutch friends, all foreigners are prohibited from Dutch coffee shops. Additionally, any Dutch person who would like to visit a coffee house must now first register with the government and obtain a “weed pass.”
The practical impact of this new law means that foreigners have filed discrimination law suits and are no longer traveling to these areas of The Netherlands to legally purchase cannabis. This is reducing tax revenue and reducing the amount foreigners spend in the local economy on hotels, gas, and food. One article I read suggested that the City of Maastricht would lose $41 million in tourism revenue as a result of the law, but didn’t provide details on how that estimate was calculated or the time frame it covered. Another article suggested a 60% drop in tourism revenue since the laws went into effect.
The primary reason the Dutch adopted a tolerant policy toward coffee shops back in the 1970s was to separate “soft” and “hard” drug markets and to reduce the number of street dealers. Apparently street dealers were practically non-existent when the coffee houses were open. However, with the closure of all coffee houses, Dutch consumers are turning to illegal street dealers who are apparently visible on streets throughout the city.
I find the situation an interesting economic and political study, a first-hand example of how laws drive human behaviors. But mostly I just want to take photographs. So here are three shots of the shuttered coffee shops in Maastricht.
Shuttered Coffee Shop Photo #1. Coffee Shop Kosbor.
Shuttered Coffee Shop Photo #2. Lucky Time Coffee Shop in a less lucky time.
Shuttered Coffee Shop Photo #3. As a resident of Somewhere-in-the-Middle-of-the-USA, I wonder how they decided to name this shop the Missouri Coffee Shop. And also why they abbreviated it as “Miss” which to Americans is a whole different state.
- Vereniging Officiele Coffeeshops Maastricht (VOCM) Web Site
- Dutch-Only Cannabis Coffee Shop Policy Meets Resistance
- Dutch Elections: The Battle for the Stoner Vote
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