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.

The Oakland airport pot conundrum

Airports in California are in a bit of a pickle – their state allows the medicinal use of marijuana, but until last year, no airport in the nation allowed users to legally carry their stash on a plane.

Oakland airport is the only one with an official policy permitting pot carrying passengers to fly, though officials do point out that they run the risk of being arrested if they are searched at their destination (if they are flying somewhere medicinal marijuana is not recognized).

Pot for medicinal use has been approved in California since 1996. Until 2008, any marijuana found at Oakland airport meant the cops would be summoned, and the stash thrown away – even though it was obtained legally. FAA regulations ban people from carrying marijuana on a plane – unless it is authorized by a Federal or State law.

According to a local Sheriff, some other Californian airports have an unwritten tolerance policy, while others like Burbank, Ontario and San Diego do not. The Sheriff says all airports in the state should have an official policy supporting the state law, but at the moment, Oakland airport is the only one.

Obviously this does not mean that any pothead can fly in and out of Oakland with a couple of baggies, the distribution and use is still regulated, but those people that need their daily joint to relieve pain can fly knowing they won’t be harassed.