In a day and age where the economy dominates the political landscape, alternative solutions are taking more of a center-stage than ever before. Could Marijuana be the economic-stimulus that this country so desperately needs? The debate rages, lines are being drawn, sides chosen. Does one need to pick a side? Not yet, but one should definitely be aware of the effects this decision will have.
In a city of a 120,000 people in the southern part of the Netherlands, Maastricht has become the first city to implement a new law that bars foreigners from “coffee-shops.” These are establishments that legally sell marijuana and other “soft drugs.” For decades coffee-shops have been as much of a tourist fixture in the Netherlands as Rembrandt, windmills, or that kid with his finger in the dike.
The new law requires Dutch residents to present a permit, nicknamed a “weed pass” before being able to even enter the establishment. They are not able to enter under any circumstances with out this permit. Not for coffee, not to use the bathroom or even get out of the rain for a moment. Maastricht has 14 coffee-shops within its city limits and fewer than 100 people have signed up for this weed pass.(Bender) The majority of the 100 are people who work in the coffee-shops, but that is just a faction of the work force.
There were 440 people who held full-time employment in these shops, and as of May 1, 2012, the day the law went into affect, 360 people lost their jobs. (Bender) Needless to say there is a multiplier effect of coffee-shop tourism. Coffee-shop tourist book hotels, they eat, they drink, and they shop for clothes. All of this has an impact of $118 million per year in Maastricht alone. Nationwide coffee-shops collectively pay $569 million in annual taxes. (Bender) A recent study is predicting a loss of 1,500 jobs in Maastricht under the new law.
With this new law to go into nationwide effect January 1, 2013,...