Drug tourism, at its most basic level, is travel with the intent of buying or using drugs for recreational purposes that are illegal or unavailable in one’s home country or state. It generally involves going to a different state or country in order to buy drugs such as marijuana, which may be illegal, or items like tobacco or alcohol, where the legal age may be lower. Drug tourism is relatively safe, and doesn’t receive the criticism that other types of dark tourism receive, but problems can arise, especially if travellers attempt to smuggle drugs back into their own country.
Pros and Cons
Drug tourism raises obvious safety and health issues.
Anytime you engage in drug use there is a risk to your health, even if it is in a controlled and relatively safe environment.
Some places, like Amsterdam, have excellent police and the drug use is safe and relatively mild. Travelling to other places, however, for the purpose of doing drugs may involve higher risk. Some people may be tempted to smuggle drugs back to their home countries, which brings about serious legal repercussions if they are caught. Smuggling drugs is a violation of numerous international laws, and punishable by long term imprisonment in most countries. Still, for those looking to engage in drug use legally, drug tourism is a very popular option.
The most popular destination in the world for drug tourism is Amsterdam. The liberal attitude of the Dutch toward cannabis possession and use makes it a hot spot for tourists wishing to smoke. Recently, the Dutch government announced that it would ban tourists and non-Dutch citizens from entering Dutch coffee shops (where marijuana is sold), but as of 2014 this law has not been enforced. While weed and “space cakes” are the most popular drugs, Amsterdam is also known for its stimulants, which offer similar effects to opium and MDMA. For Americans, popular destinations include Mexico and Canada, because the drinking age is much lower than it is in the United States. Thus, 19 year olds can go to Canada for the weekend and go out to bars and clubs, something they would be unable to do in America.
The Road Less Travelled
Perhaps surprisingly to some people, South Australia has a very liberal approach to marijuana, and attracts a lot of interstate drug tourism, especially from New South Wales and Victoria. Other destinations include Malana in India, where Indian hashish is produced and Amazonian villages in South America where a liquid called ayahuasca is made. It is a mixture of psychedelic plants and provides a unique out of body experience. Recently, with the states of Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana, interstate road trips to each state are becoming more and more popular for Americans young adults.
Costs and Savings
Using Amsterdam as a model, the price of hash or weed in a coffee shop ranges from $10 to $70, depending on the amount or quality. It is strongly suggested that you only buy weed at a coffee shop and never on the street. Of course, the real cost is the trip to Amsterdam. Tickets from the United States cost over $1000, and you will need to factor in accommodation and general living costs as well.