Drug tourists banned from Dutch city

Potheads take note: unless you’re Dutch, you are no longer welcome in Maastricht.

The Dutch city passed a measure to ban foreigners from its coffee shops, where marijuana and hash are legal to buy and consume. Marc Josemans, chairman of the Association of Official Maastricht Coffee Shops, brought suit against the city, saying the ruling violates EU laws guaranteeing free commerce and free movement. An EU court, however, just ruled in favor of the city, citing that drugs are not legal everywhere in the EU so do not count as regular goods.

Owing to its location on the border with Belgium and its proximity to France and Germany, Maastricht is popular with drug tourists, attracting about 4,000 a day. An estimated 70 percent of the customers at the city’s coffee shops are foreigners.

Amsterdam has been cleaning up its act too. It has dramatically decreased its red light district and there has been discussion about making coffee shops members-only establishments so as to discourage drug tourists.

The image is an advertisement distributed by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1935. Beware the friendly stranger.

Spanish air contains cocaine

Next time you visit Madrid or Barcelona, breathe deeply. Along with the car exhaust, you’ll be getting a whiff of cocaine, according to a recent study.

The Superior Council of Scientific Investigations tested the air in various barrios in the two cities where drug use is popular, and found trace particles of cannabis, amphetamines, and a host of other drugs besides the ubiquitous Bolivian Marching Powder.

While this may seem like yet another of those headline-grabbing but flawed “scientific studies”, having lived in Madrid for the past several years I can believe it. It’s not unusual to catch a cloud of ganja while engaged in the simple act of walking down the street, or to walk into a club bathroom and find someone sniffing off the counter (I mean really people, have you no sense of hygiene!!!) The government has recently felt it necessary to start a national advertising campaign to remind people that drugs are, in fact, illegal.

This is something that many travelers forget at their peril. While some Spaniards wink at drug use, the cops will bust your ass same as back home.