Drug tourism

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Drug tourism is travel for the purpose of obtaining or using drugs for recreational or medicinal use that are unavailable or illegal in one's home jurisdiction.

A sign of a cannabis coffee shop in Amsterdam

Drug tourism can be also defined as the phenomenon by which one's travel experience involves the consumption and usage of drugs that are considered to be illegal or illegitimate in either the visited destination or the tourist’s country of origin. This would include crossing a national border to obtain drugs over the counter that are not sold in one's own country, or traveling to another country in order to obtain or use narcotics that are illegal in one's own country, or even traveling from one province/county/state to another in order to buy alcohol or tobacco more easily. Drug tourism to other countries is also popular among college students in the United States younger than 21 who are not yet of the legal drinking age for alcohol purchasing and consumption. Empirical studies show that drug tourism is heterogeneous and might involve either the pursuit of mere pleasure and escapism or a quest for profound and meaningful experiences through the consumption of drugs.

Drug tourism has many legal implications, and persons engaging in it sometimes risk prosecution for drug smuggling or other drug-related charges in their home jurisdictions or in the jurisdictions they are visiting, especially if they bring their purchases home rather than using them abroad. The act of travelling for the purpose of buying or using drugs is itself a criminal offense in some jurisdictions.

Warning sign in Amsterdam after 3 tourists died after taking white heroin that was sold as cocaine

In Europe, the Netherlands, and especially the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, is a popular destination for drug tourists, due to the liberal attitude of the Dutch toward cannabis use and possession. Drug tourism thrives because legislation controlling the sale, possession, and use of drugs varies dramatically from one jurisdiction to another. In May 2011 the Dutch government announced that tourists would to be banned from Dutch coffeeshops, starting in the southern provinces at the end of 2011,[1] and the rest of the country by 2012,[2] though this was never made into law and thus coffeeshops throughout the Netherlands continue remain open to tourists as of August 2014. On 25 November 2014 two British tourists aged 20 and 21 died in a hotel room in Amsterdam, after snorting white heroin that was sold as cocaine by a street dealer.[3] The bodies were found less than a month after another British tourist died in similar circumstances. At least 17 other people have had medical treatment after taking the white heroin.[4]

In Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia have a more liberal approach to marijuana use, promoting interstate drug tourism, particularly from Victoria and New South Wales. In addition, some areas of northern New South Wales have a liberal recreational drug culture, particularly areas around Nimbin where the annual MardiGrass festival is held. Other popular destinations include Malana, India where famous Indian hashish is produced, and the Rif Mountains in Morocco where hashish is produced. In South America, some tourists are attracted to Amazonian villages to try a local liquid called ayahuasca which is a mixture of psychedelic plants that is used in traditional ceremonies. Similarly, tourists in Peru try hallucinogenic cactus called San Pedro which originally has been used by local tribes.

See also[edit]


  • Belhassen, Y., Santos, C.A., & Uriely, N. (2007). “Cannabis Use in Tourism: A Sociological Perspective.” Leisure Studies, 26(3), 303–19.
  • Bellis, M. A., Hale, G., Bennett, A., Chaudry, M. & Kilfoyle, M. (2000). "Ibiza Uncovered: Changes in Substanceuse and Sexual Behaviour amongst Young People Visiting an International Night-Life Resort." International Journal of Drug Policy, 11(3), 235–44.
  • de Rios, M. (1994). "Drug Tourism in the Amazon: Why Westerners are Desperate to Find the Vanishing Primate." Omni 16, 6–9.
  • Josiam, M. B, J. S. P. Hobson, U. C. Dietrich, & G. Smeaton (1998). “An Analysis of the Sexual, Alcohol and Drug Related Behavioral Patterns of Students on Spring Break.” Tourism Management, 19 (6), 501–13.
  • Sellars, A. (1998). “The Influence of Dance Music on the UK Youth Tourism Market.” Tourism Management, 19 (6), 611–15.
  • Uriely, N. & Belhassen, Y. (2005). “Drugs and Tourists’ Experiences.” Journal of Travel Research, 43(3), 238–46.
  • Uriely, N. & Belhassen, Y. (2006) “Drugs and Risk Taking in Tourism.” Annals of Tourism Research, 33(2), 339–59.
  • Valdez, A., & Sifaneck, S. (1997). "Drug Tourists and Drug Policy on the U.S.-Mexican Border: An Ethnographic Investigation." Journal of Drug Issues, 27, 879–98.


http://nugmag.com/2011/09/tourist-coffee-shop-ban-not-in-amsterdam/ October 27, 2011 http://drnights.com/ September 20, 2012