Okay, a new article from today’s Le Monde which explains the impact of a new law in the Netherlands which will limit the sale of marijuana at coffee-shops to holders of a permit, which can only be obtained by a Dutch resident, or those from Belgium or Germany. It is fascinating reading… (I had never known the exact specifics of the sale of marijuana in coffee-shops before). Unfortunately, the Mayor of Maastricht does come out sounding more than a little racist, and the problems he says they are attempting to solve for – traffic, speeding, littering, etc. – seem to be quite common for any urban center; they don’t hold a lot of water. Perhaps the ends listed are legitimate, however one wonders if the least restrictive means necessary are being applied. That is ironic, however, coming from an American, where the sale and use of marijuana is almost completely prohibited – and marijuana is considered a Schedule I narcotic (having no recognized medicinal value) – right up there with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. The state where I live has zero allowances for medical marijuana usage either, thus all sale or possession of any kind is illegal.
It will be interesting to see the outcome of this action – if the legal proceedings will protect the rights of individuals to use marijuana without registering with the city – or if the subsequent economic impact will cause a rethinking of the policy (I’m sure they don’t call the coffee-shops “tourist factories” for nothing) – or if the social fallout of pushing the dealers onto the street and putting the “war on drugs” on the sidewalk instead of hiding it away in a coffee-shop – will alter the situation.
Also, it is an interesting parallel to previous articles regarding the right-ward shift in rhetoric by Nicolas Sarkozy and the National Front, which seems to indicate dissatisfaction with the EU, or “populist” (even separatist) movements emphasizing national identity. Here, there is a sense of “Smoking pot is for the Dutch. If you want to smoke pot in your own country, go away and legalize it there.” In fact, it seems positively anti-EU to say that the sale of a product is reserved for citizens of a certain country; to permit it for your own and two others, but not for the rest. Definitely would be interesting to look at its potential impact in relation to the Schengen convention.
Pays-Bas : la bataille des coffee-shops
Netherlands [Low-Country]: Coffee-shop wars
LE MONDE | 26.04.2012 à 15h35 – Mis à jour le 30.04.2012 à 13h15
Par Yves Eudes, Maastricht (Pays-Bas), envoyé spécial
Même quand on est prévenu, on ressent un petit choc en lisant l’affiche rouge placardée à l’entrée du coffee-shop Easy Going : “FRANCE : NON”. Depuis octobre 2011, seuls les résidents des Pays-Bas et des pays limitrophes – la Belgique et l’Allemagne – ont le droit d’entrer et d’acheter du cannabis dans les 14 coffee-shops de Maastricht. Pour appliquer cette nouvelle règle, la direction de l’Easy Going a installé à l’entrée un guichet de contrôle : un portier scanne les pièces d’identité, puis actionne un portique pour laisser entrer les clients, un par un.
Even if you’ve been warned, you feel a little shock reading the red sign attached to the entrance of the Easy Going coffee-shop: “No French.” Since October 2011, only residents of the Netherlands and neighboring countries – Belgium and Germany – have the right to enter and buy marijuana in the 14 coffee-shops of Maastricht. To enforce this new rule, management of the Easy Going has installed a small window at the entrance: a doorman scans the ID, then allows entrance to customers, one by one.