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How Does Weed Legalization Affect Tourism?


People travel to other environments for many reasons. Colorful history, vibrant culture,
famous landmarks, beautiful nature are some of the key factors for visiting a country. But, there are also some other tourism forms, like medicinal tourism, sex tourism or drug tourism.


So how is drug legalization affecting tourism in legalized countries? 



What in the World is Drug Tourism?


Drug tourism is defined as traveling with the intent to obtain or use drugs for recreational or personal use.
It is not strictly related to things commonly referred as drugs, and also includes tobacco and alcohol.


Why would someone go to another country to buy drugs? Well, there are many possible reasons:

  1. Substances in question are not available in one's homeland
  2. It may be that the drugs are very expensive
  3. Substances that are illegal in one country could be much more available in other country


A form of drug tourism could be crossing the border to buy cheap alcohol (such as Canadians going to USA because of heavy taxes on booze) or going to Amsterdam to smoke marijuana.


Partaking in drug activities while in other country can
change your life for better or worse. Incentives for taking drugs are so different that it is hard to define a universal drug tourist.


Some people are drawn simply for the fact that they are doing something which is illegal in their country, while others may be seeking a spiritual experience in the South American Andes.

Effects of Drug Legalization on Tourism


Whether we like it or not, availability of drugs can have serious effect on tourism. There can be positive effects, and there can be negative effects, it all depends based on the circumstances. Drug legalisation is a
trend in rising, so a regulatory affairs consultant will be a position in high demand.


Here are the effects of drug legalization on tourism.

Positive Effects of Drug-Driven Tourism


Increased numbers of visitors - Since a destination offers something that is not available in other countries, people will be interested to go there. Intent of their visit may vary, but we will get into this.


Boost to the local economy
- Tourism is a major source of income for many people living in popular tourist destinations. Drug tourists are well, tourists! They spend money for staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, buying souvenirs, and paying taxes on legalized drugs!


National advancement
- Foreign travelers increase the demand for higher standards in communication, healthcare, transportation, and other infrastructure in less developed countries. One example is the effort to make internet connection available in whole Thailand.


Negative Effects of Drug Tourism


Potential rise in criminal activities - This is a tricky one. Once the region decides to go liberal on drug laws, there is no coming back without consequences. For example, Dutch authorities decided to ban marijuana sales in districts that are close to the border. The reason for this was that legal drugs made it possible for Europeans living on the border to go to Netherlands strictly for buying drugs, and nothing else (no income from hotels, restaurants…).

So they decided it was better to allow only Dutch residents to buy drugs. However, the invisible hand of the market came in. With an open spot in the market, came the ilegal dealers who would prowl the streets for European customers.
  So you lose the state income from drug taxes, people working in coffee shops lose jobs, and you got criminals fighting each other for territory on the streets…


Bad reputation - Destination with liberal drug laws can be considered as culturally inferior and less family-friendly. Let's take Amsterdam, for example, many people heard of this Dutch city because of its liberal drug and sex policies. But this town has much more to offer, it has so many museums and a vibrant culture, that often gets overshadowed.

Destinations can also get more bad press. A crime or an accident related to drugs is much more headline-appealing than others. You don't hear about people doing stupid stuff while drunk, but get high on mushrooms in Amsterdam and jump of a bridge, you can be damn sure it will be major world news.


Increase in criminal activities - There are destinations which are known for drug tourism, although it is illegal to possess or use drugs there. Influx of tourists, and higher demand for illegal substances increases criminal activities. As unregulated market is much harder to keep track of. Corruption can also easily spiral out of control.

Is drug tourism good or bad? As with many complex things - it depends. When there is a good regulatory frame, drug tourism can have a net positive effect. Otherwise, it can cause serious problems for the country and its visitors.

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