Never really thought I\’d write that. Still. The Devil:
Erm, cannabis is illegal in Holland? Really?
I don\’t think so, sunshine.
Cannabis remains a controlled substance in the Netherlands and both possession and production for personal use are still misdemeanors, punishable by fine. Coffee shops are also illegal according to the statutes.
However, a policy of non-enforcement has led to a situation where reliance upon non-enforcement has become common, and because of this the courts have ruled against the government when individual cases were prosecuted.
This is because the Dutch Ministry of Justice applies a gedoogbeleid (policy of tolerance or allowance policy) with regard to soft drugs: an official set of guidelines telling public prosecutors under which circumstances offenders should not be prosecuted. This is a more official version of the common practice in other countries, in which law enforcement sets priorities as to which offenses are important enough to spend limited resources on.
Yes, illegal, but not enforced very much. Rather like the British attitude to burglary. Prefer it the other way around of course, here.
Last week the city announced it was closing down a third of its infamous brothels, and in April, its "coffee shops" were forced to choose between serving alcohol or dealing in officially-tolerated marijuana. Most chose the weed, but from next summer the Dutch will ban smoking in all public outlets. How exactly this will affect the wacky baccy trade is unclear, but things will never be the same again in one of the world\’s most progressive and tolerant cities.
Banning the smoking of tobacco in a place that exists for the smoking of cannabis.
Well, yes you did Jackie Laddie:
The Justice Minister, Jack Straw, became the most senior Labour minister last night to speak out against the decriminalisation of cannabis.
He told Channel Four News that he was against downgrading it to a class C drug.
"I was always against it, let me say, I can disclose this now, reducing the categorisation of cannabis from B to C, I thought that was an error," he said.
The only sensible or moral thing anyone could do with this, as with other drugs, is some form of controlled legalization. There\’s that moral point, which is that the only justification for limiting a person\’s freedom is to limit harm to others: harm to him is not such a justification. Sensible comes in because the harms that are caused by drugs are, if not solely caused by their illegality, most certainly amplified by it. But Jack says he wants to put cannabis back up to a Class B drug, with a possible 5 year jail sentence for possession. Why?
"Why I want to upgrade cannabis and make it more a drug that people worry about is that we don\’t want to send out a message – just like with alcohol – to teenagers that we accept these things."
It\’s certainly an interesting message to send to teenagers: we\’re blithering idiots with no concept of freedom or liberty and we\’ll make law according to ill found prejudice, not any cost benefit analysis nor attention to facts.
As I\’ve pointed out earlier, the recorded rise in psychosis from the stronger versions of cannabis (and there\’s a great deal of doubt about whether this figure is well founded, but it is the one everyone is using) is some 450 cases a year. Depending upon who you believe there are some 2-8 million regular cannabis users in the country. So upgrading to Class B is in effect threatening 20 million man years of jail time to prevent 450 cases a year of psychosis. It is to laugh.