Jay, a 29-year-old from London, lights a cannabis joint in a coffee shop on Nov. 1, 2012, in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands. The ban on foreigners entering coffee shops came into effect last May in the Netherlands' southern provinces, but after intense lobbying by city authorities in Amsterdam it's now up to each city to decide how to apply the cannabis laws. (Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
MAASTRICHT, Netherlands — Club 69 has seen better days.
On a wet winter afternoon, the place was empty. The palm-tree murals went un-admired, the elaborate smoke-extraction system was turned off and the tupperware containers of cannabis sat unsmoked on the shelves.
Owner Henk Peelen says his "coffee shop" — the Dutch term for a cannabis cafe — has fallen victim to laws that came into force last year to stop foreigners from taking advantage of the Netherlands' tolerant approach to soft drugs.
"Because of the ban on customers who came from abroad, I had to sack all my staff, 11 people," he said.
About half of Maastricht's 14 coffee shops have shut down since May, when the new rules took effect. Others have seen a radical decline in customers and Peelen says almost 400 people have lost their job across this southern city.
"It's costing the city a lot of money," he complains.
Amsterdam is a two-hour drive north of Maastricht. In the heart of the capital's red-light district, the scene in its best-known coffee shop could hardly be a bigger contrast. The cheerful, international crowd spilling out of the canal-side Bulldog is an illustration of the complexity of Dutch drug laws.
The ban on foreigners entering coffee shops came into force last May in the Netherlands' southern provinces and was due to take effect across the whole country on Jan. 1, limiting access to marijuana outlets to Dutch residents who register to obtain a "weed pass."
However, after intense lobbying by city authorities in Amsterdam, which feared a loss of tourist revenue, a new Dutch government elected in September agreed to change tack. The law still stands, but it's now up to each city to decide how to apply it.
"We would like to inform you that coffee shops are OPEN in Amsterdam," the Bulldog proclaims on its website.
That may be good news for tourists hoping to chill out with a toke after a trek around the flower market or Van Gogh Museum, but not for the weed lovers of Maastricht.
"It's death penalty for cannabis culture," says Roger Willemsen, whose Organic Earth store sells cannabis seeds and other products for customers seeking to grow their own. "It's the world turned around. Instead of going forward they are going backward."
The city hall in this pretty riverside university city of 122,000 — close to the Netherlands' borders with Belgium and Germany — sees things differently.
Mayor Onno Hoes had lobbied for the new restrictions, complaining Maastricht was being overrun by rowdy foreign youngsters flooding into town to get stoned.
"In Amsterdam there are tourists going to visit the museums and the canals who go to the Bulldog or some other coffee shop to smoke some weed. Here you had people coming in just to visit four or five coffee shops and buy up the maximum amount of weed," explains Gertjan Bos, the mayor's spokesman. "They were noisy, unruly, a nuisance."
Bos says the weed pass has successfully halted the flow of an estimated 1.6 million foreign visitors a year who came to the city for pot.
Although the coffee shop association calculates the decline in dope-smoking visitors has wiped out income of about $185 million, Bos denies there's been any significant impact on the city's wider economy.
However, he acknowledges that the weed pass idea has not been entirely successful. Provisions designed to turn the cannabis outlets into private clubs where all clients must register as members have scared away Dutch customers, forcing the closure of coffee shops.
Recognizing the problem, the city hall announced in September it was dropping the registration requirement so customers need only show their Dutch passport or local residence papers to gain access to coffee shops.
Peelen, however, is not convinced.
He says Club 69 — located across the street from Maastricht University's arts and social science faculty and next door to an "erotic discount center" — has enough customers to keep afloat, but doubts others will reopen unless an ongoing legal challenge forces a change in city policy.
Meanwhile, he claims the new restrictions on coffee shops have led to an "explosion" of illegal street dealing.
"There is more criminality on the street, more aggression. People feel unsafe. What sort of first impression does that give to people coming from abroad?" Peelen asks.
Bos counters that tough police action has cracked down on street trading while the new measures to encourage Dutch pot smokers to return to the coffee shops will further undercut the illegal dealers.
A short walk from Club 69, Willemsen's emporium for pot cultivators is packed with lamps, fertilizers and sacks of soil. There's also a baffling array of seed varieties ranging from the modest African Widow, going for just $13 for a packet of 10, to the likes of G13 Haze New York Diesel retailing at $185.
Willemsen says the sale of cannabis seeds is completely legal and the grow-your-own business is booming since the weed pass was introduced.
"Of course it depends on what they do with them. We sell to customers who maybe want to feed them to their canaries or grow the plants for a windbreak in the garden," he says with a smile.
"There's a Dutch mentality, a lot of people thought it was tolerance, but it's not tolerance, it's creativity. People in Holland know the rules, but there's always a way to get around them."
On the news that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's lifted the military ban on women in combat, GlobalPost took a look at women's wartime roles around the world.
Women combat afghanistan
Female Afghan National Police cadets train at the shooting range of the Kabul Police Academy on November 14, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Kabul police academy graduates 500 male officers each year, after 4 years of training, and around 30 women after 6 months of training.
- [Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images]
Women combat australia
Australian soldiers Captain Veena (Big Red) Cochrane (R) and flight officer Christine Edey (L) prepare to board a Sea King helicopter at Henderson International Aiprort near Honiara on July 25, 2003. While Australian women can not serve in many positions qualified as "direct combat," they can can serve in combat units.
- [TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images]
Women combat canada
A Canadian female soldier takes part in a training exercise in July 2007 at the Joint Multinational Readiness Centre (JMRC) near the southern German town of Hohenfels. Since a 1989 tribunal order, women have become more fully integrated into the Canadian military, serving in combat and commanding large infantry units.
- [SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP/Getty Images]
Women combat china
Trainee bodyguards — most with previous military experience — listen to instructions at the Genghis Security Academy in Beijing on Jan. 17, 2013. As of 2008, around 7.5 percent of China's People's Liberation Army personnel were women, although thier work is largely limited to non-combat roles.
- [ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images]
Women combat colombia
Female soldiers take part in a training on May 14, 2009 in Tolemaida military base, Colombia. The first sixty-two women to become cadets ever in Colombia were taking combat training, after which they would be in a position to command troops.
- [RAFA SALAFRANCA/AFP/Getty Images]
Women combat germany
Two female German soldiers from the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) at Camp Marmal in Mazar e Sharif in Afghanistan on June 30, 2008. Women have served in German combat units since a 2001 European Court of Justice ruling.
- [MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images]
Women combat israel 1
Israeli Army female soldier Yael Suissa (L) competes in a push-up competition with US Army sergeant Aaron Thomas Feb. 4, 2003 during a joint US-Israeli military exercise in the Negev desert in southern Israel.
- [Alberto Denkberg/Getty Images]
Women combat israel 3
An Israeli soldier from the Karakal Battalion in action during training on Dec. 14, 2010. The Karakal is a mixed-sex battalion formed in 2004, with men and women serving together in this combat unit, based in the Negev desert on the borders with Egypt and Jordan. Israeli women, like men, are drafted and can serve in combat.
- [Uriel Sinai/Getty Images]
Women combat korea
Female cadets participate in basic military training for reserve officers at military camp on Jan. 19, 2011 in Seoul, South Korea. The Ministry of National Defense in South Korea agreed two years ago to admit women into its college-based Reserve Officers' Training Program for the first time since the program began in 1963. Women can serve in combat in the South Korean military, and there have even been female combat generals.
- [Park Jin-Hee - Pool/Getty Images]
Women combat pakistan
Pakistani Air Force cadet Nadia Gul, 21, stands in front of a mural at the Pakistani Air Force Academy Oct. 6, 2005, in Risalpur, Pakistan. Gul, the top student in her class of 64 at the academy, was one of only eight female cadets in training to be fighter pilots in the Pakistani Air Force. Pakistani women are able to train and serve in combat roles.
- [John Moore/Getty Images]
Women combat uk 2
Cadets take part in the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst on Dec. 14, 2012 in England. The parade marks the completion of 44 weeks of training for 200 young people who will be commissioned into the British Army and the armies of 13 overseas countries. Senior Under Officer Sarah Hunter-Choat became the fourth woman in the Royal Military Academy's history to receive the prestigious Sword of Honour which is awarded to the best Officer Cadet on the course. British women have served in combat roles at various points in British history, including World War II and the Gulf War.
- [Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]
Women combat us 1
Members of the US Naval Academy Freshman class low crawl under obstacles at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland on May 17, 2005.
- [Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
Women combat us 2
A US woman soldier of the 3rd Infantry Division practices life-saving skills during a combat lifesaver course in Camp Taji, northwest of Baghdad, Aug. 13 2005.
- [LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images]
Women combat us 3
A US soldier from the 2nd Battallion 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4-2 SBCT, searches an Iraqi woman on Feb. 25, 2008, as she arrives at an improvished clinic set up by the US military 20 kms northeast of Baghdad.
- [PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images]
Women combat us 4
Army First Lt. Alisha Vanghn (L) is greeted by her friend First Lt. Shandale Hall (R) during a welcome home ceremony for 330 soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division on Jan. 7, 2006 at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Hall and Vaughn served together in Iraq, but returned home a month apart.
- [Stephen Morton/Getty Images]
Women combat us 5
Two US Army soldiers, Private Miranda Nichols (L), 18, from Georgia, and Private First Class Leysha Williamson (R), 27, from Texas, man a foxhole during a dawn defensive alert south of Baghdad on March 30, 2003.
- [ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images]
Women combat us 6
A US soldier stands amid Shiite Muslim youths during a patrol in September 2003 in Sadr City, home to the largest Shiite community in Baghdad.
- [RABIH MOGHRABI/AFP/Getty Images]
Women combat us 7
US Army chaplain Cpt. Julie Rowan comforts the mother of a woman who died of burn wounds on Sept. 10, 2005, at the combat hospital at Baghram Air Field, Afghanistan.
- [John Moore/Getty Images]
Women combat us 8
A ground crew member sits in the co-pilot's seat of a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft as she helps conduct a maintenance check during Operation Desert Shield.
- [USAF/Getty Images]
Women combat us 9
A US Military Academy graduate smiles after receiving her diploma during commencement exercises on May 31, 2003, in West Point, New York.
- [Chris Hondros/Getty Images]
Women combat us 10
Female Marine Corps recruit Ginger Callahan, 20, of New York fires on the rifle range at the United States Marine Corps recruit depot on June 21, 2004 in Parris Island, South Carolina.
- [Scott Olson/Getty Images]
Women combat us 11
Former Iraqi War POW Shoshana Johnson (R) listens as the church choir sing a song to honor her at the First United Christian Church on June 6, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. Shoshana, the first black female POW, was captured and shot in the ankles during the US invasion of Iraq on March 23 near Nasiriyah along with six other US Army personnel from the El Paso-based 507th Maintenance Company.
- [David McNew/Getty Images]