What's the Latest Development?
In the seven months since the Netherlands' city-specific "weed pass" law -- restricting marijuana purchases to Dutch citizens with appropriate identification -- took effect, the city of Maastricht has seen a precipitous decline in the number of foreign tourists looking to get high. Consequently, about half of the city's "coffee shops" -- where the drug is normally purchased -- have closed, and the remaining are struggling to stay afloat. In addition, almost 400 people have lost their jobs as a result of the law, and there's been an increase in illegal drug traffic and drug-related crime.
What's the Big Idea?
The law was was originally scheduled to apply nationwide this month, but successful counter-lobbying got it amended to allow cities to decide how to apply it. Not surprisingly, Amsterdam ditched it entirely, and coffee shops there are still open for business. Meanwhile, Gertjan Bos, spokesman for Maastricht mayor Onno Hoes, says that the law is a good thing for his city, which is near the country's Belgian and German borders. "Here you had people coming in just to visit four or five coffee shops and buy up the maximum amount of weed. They were noisy, unruly, a nuisance."
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