Lowdown on Marijuana in Holland

Lowdown on Marijuana in Holland
Posted by CN Staff on September 25, 2006 at 14:20:51 PT
By Jewel Aldea
Source: East Tennessean
Tennessee -- "Yeah, it's legal, but it ain't a hundred percent legal. I mean, you can't walk into a restaurant, roll a joint and start puffin' away. You're only supposed to smoke in your home or certain designated places ... It breaks down like this: it's legal to buy it, it's legal to own it, and, if you're the proprietor of a hash bar, it's legal to sell it. It's legal to carry it, which doesn't really matter 'cause - get a load of this - if the cops stop you, it's illegal for them to search you."
This quote is almost scripture one for anyone who is even remotely cinematically literate. Just in case, it's a snippet from "Pulp Fiction": John Travolta's Vincent explains to Samuel L. Jackson's Jules to what extent marijuana is legal in the Netherlands, encapsulating what most people know about Dutch drug policy. The second most-asked question that people ask me, when they find out that I've just returned from Holland, is "Did you smoke any weed while you were there?" Other versions: "Are those coffee shops for real?" and sometimes, with a knowing smile, "Exactly how much dope did you smoke?" Technically, marijuana and hash (a cannabis derivative) is illegal in Holland. The Dutch, to appease major trading partners that criminalize certain drugs - most notably the U.S., France, and Germany - have laws on the books that criminalize those drugs as well. However, Dutch authorities apply "non-enforcement" concerning the sale of marijuana by koffieshops to customers for personal use. Why? The Dutch government tends to take a pragmatic approach to social issues, classifying illegal drug use as more of a public health issue, and making a distinction between hard drugs - such as heroin and cocaine - and soft drugs. To sum up their rationale, "These problems are never going away completely. We should use fewer resources to limit them to a manageable level." (For those who might argue that vices such as drug use and prostitution are morally wrong, they examine our own society, particularly in this region - for a place in which many people might profess to be religious or go to church regularly, there are still prostitutes and drugs. Obviously, the onus of faith and/or criminal prosecution doesn't deter people.)So, to add to what Quentin Tarantino has taught us, here are the rules: Coffeeshops can sell up to 5 grams of marijuana or hash to an individual. (Who needs more than that all at once, anyway?) The coffee shops must pay taxes on their sales, and they are not allowed to advertise. You must be at least 18 to buy marijuana. Technically, the wholesale suppliers that service coffee shops are still breaking the law, only one example of how gray drug laws have become in the face of the pressure from those "drug-free" trading partners. Trafficking hard drugs is still illegal, resulting in heavy fines and time in jail. Now, you might think that, because weed is widely available in Holland, all of the Dutch do it on a regular basis and are high all the time. Not so. As with most things, when a "vice" isn't a big deal - namely, if doing it doesn't make you any cooler because you're breaking the law - you're more likely to be blasé about it. Most Dutch university students, at least, are not habitual smokers, and I found it difficult to find a Dutch person who was as high as a kite. They leave it to American or British students and tourists, who don't know what they're doing, to stagger out of cookie-cutter coffee shops.There are some aspects of Dutch drug culture that are more whimsical than they are shocking. For example, if a Dutch person asks you whether or not you "blow," they're not asking if you do cocaine, and they're not trying to be fresh. They're asking whether or not you'd indulge in a Euro-style spliff - Europeans, frugal as they are, generally throw in some tobacco with their weed, to make it "smoke better," or smoother. For a lightweight or a beginner, that bit of tobacco is for the best. As in most things, the Dutch don't mess around when it comes to the potency of their drugs. Their diligence is exemplified with the Cannabis Cup: held every November, and sponsored by the magazine High Times, this internationally known, juried competition sniffs out the best strains of marijuana on the planet. Coffee shops are an adventure in themselves, even if you don't smoke up. They range from franchises (or at least, several shops that look the same, with neon palm trees in the windows and Bob Marley playing over the speakers) to extremely cozy and domestic (with cats on the windowsill and playing bossa nova over their speakers). Yes, there is a menu of choices - the longest I saw was at least three pages front and back - and anyone working behind the counter will be glad to make recommendations. In addition to having just plain weed or hash for sale, you can buy a pre-rolled joint - handy if you are not very good at rolling one yourself -and they come in a convenient carrying case. I personally couldn't believe that, besides space cakes (brownies baked with hash) there are more palatable methods for consuming cannabis: hash milkshakes, Earl Grey infused with weed, hash bon-bons … So, exactly how much dope did I smoke while I was in Holland?I would still consider myself a novice in such things. But, unlike most things about my time abroad, I should say, "What happens in Holland stays in Holland." I'll leave the rest to your imagination. Source: East Tennessean, The (TN Edu)Author: Jewel AldeaPublished: September 25, 2006Copyright: 2006 The East TennesseanContact: ETSUweb etsu.eduWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #7 posted by whig on September 27, 2006 at 15:33:25 PT
Hi Ralph.You are right about people having different reasons for finding cannabis in different places, and furthermore that the environment can have a big impact on how one feels about it.I don't think that the "gateway theory" is correct, however, and the studies don't support it as far as I'm aware. There would be a far stronger case to be made that cigarettes are the gateway, or alcohol, both of which tend to be used at an earlier age on average than cannabis. Of course, so is milk.The truth is cannabis doesn't make people depressed, it treats depression, and people who are going to kill themselves with some other drug are likely to do so without cannabis more so than with. I can tell you that cannabis saved my life.I would have been an overdose fatality, eventually. It would not necessarily have happened the first time, but I was clever enough and had access to enough that I could have done it and been glad.
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Comment #6 posted by ralph on September 27, 2006 at 15:15:30 PT:
pot in america
POT in america is diffrent then holland because there are some people that do it for the thrill of getting caught but there are others that would rather it be legal and not have too deal with the cops and have a good timenow if i went to holland i would do it because its a tourist attraction But in america its just illegal because of stupid people in the thritys that thought it could kill you wich it can if your deprressed you can get addictied and go on too heavier drug but there are some people that smoke it just because they like the way it tastes and the way they fell wich i dont think is so wrong What do you think?please relpy i would like too hear other peoples thoughts
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on September 25, 2006 at 19:20:27 PT
I don't want to say too much and spoil it for anyone but Weeds was really good tonight and the preview for next week looks really good too. I hope others are able to watch it.
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Comment #4 posted by whig on September 25, 2006 at 19:00:45 PT
I just passed the information along, there's nobody who would contact me to tell me whether they contacted him. Maybe some people attended the event and that will be good.
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on September 25, 2006 at 18:48:22 PT
Whig did you ever hear from PA and Howard of Leap
when you ck out the leap event site you see that many times and dates are for CT if CO could start to fill in someof the dates with CO dates i feel it would help prop 44. Has anyone asked Sherif Masterson to speak on this issue. please anyone that writes LTE ask what Leap thinks and have a Leap speaker at your local event or Radio or TV or cable access stations. Not to mention the Rotary and Lions or anything else you can think of -- dont think you can not do this -- there are speakers that are comming to represent Leap -- plan a date and see if you can make it happen.
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Comment #2 posted by Max Flowers on September 25, 2006 at 18:18:54 PT
From the same article
A huge steaming pile of bull excrement:Skunk cannabis is four to seven times stronger than normal cannabis and is linked to psychosis, depression and anxiety.
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Comment #1 posted by Max Flowers on September 25, 2006 at 18:13:24 PT
Intentional pun?
Read this from a British cop, remarking about a new planned crackdown on "cannabis factories" in Britain:Alan Gibson, Acpo's lead on cannabis cultivation, said: "Cannabis cultivation is an increasing problem which must be nipped in the bud."Article at
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