Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Dutch Ban Tobacco But Not Cannabis!

In what has to be one of the most comical legislative decisions (as viewed by an outsider) the Dutch have banned the smoking of tobacco in all bars, restaurants and cafes, while permitting the smoking of pure Cannabis. As a result of this ban Amsterdam's famous Cannabis Cafes will only be permitted to allow patrons to light up pure Cannabis joints that contain no tobacco. The Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority is taking this distinction very seriously and has trained 200 inspectors to "tell the difference between a mix or a pure joint from its smell and appearance."

The Government's decision has irked quite a few people. The Guardian Reports:

Paul Wilhelm, owner of De Tweede Kamer, a popular Amsterdam coffee shop states that "it's a bit like saying to someone you can go into a cafe and you can buy a beer, but you can't drink it there - you'll have to stick to whisky, rum and vodka."

Wilhelm, who has run his cafe since 1985, said the law was in danger of "tearing the heart out" of Amsterdam's social life. "The focus of the De Tweede Kamer has always been social contact," he added. "They'll destroy that with what I see as a ridiculous law."

Mark Jacobsen, chairman of the BCD, a nationwide association of coffee shop owners, said proper implementation of the law would require inspectors to check each cannabis joint for tobacco content. "It's absurd. In other countries they look to see whether you have marijuana in your cigarette, here they'll look to see if you've got cigarette in your marijuana."

Some coffee shop owners have sought alternative ways to deal with the conundrum and allow their clientèle to still enjoy a tobacco-free cannabis spliff without it being too strong. One inventor, who calls himself Evert, is doing a roaring trade in £400 vapourisers - in which hashish or cannabis is heated to 180C and the resulting steam is directed into a balloon from which smokers inhale. The vapouriser is claimed to be the mildest way to consume pure cannabis.

While some cafes have said they will simply lay on more pure cannabis brownies or "space cakes", others have built smoking chambers within their premises which are off-limits to staff. Some are also providing alternatives to tobacco, such as the herb coltsfoot.

Martial von Beenkom, owner of Boerejongens (Young Farmers) on the outskirts of Amsterdam, has turned his cafe into a smoke-free tea salon where he will sell cannabis on a takeaway basis. "Most people come here to buy their grass which they then smoke elsewhere," he said.

Wouldn't it be fun to live in a society where there is a major public debate on the constitution of a joint?

1 comment:

Laila said...

cannabis brownies...yummm :P