November 24, 2008
POLITICS: This Week In Weed
Apparently, marijuana-selling cafes near schools are too much even for the Dutch, and indeed there is broader concern that the cafes are, predictably, bad news:
The Dutch coffee shop policy has come under fresh criticism after the Dutch cities of Bergen op Zoom and Roosendaal, located near the Belgian border, said they will close all their shops within two years to combat drug tourism and crime.
Is this the last hurrah for the land of the Hemp Festival? Perhaps not, as apparently the inevitable result of the continuation of the legal-pot policy is on the way: the government becoming the nation's monopoly dope dealer:
HOLLAND is pioneering cannabis plantations to supply the drug to coffee shops in a bid to cut out criminal gangs.
Dozens of Dutch mayors voted for the scheme at a "weed summit" to discuss how to enforce their relaxed drug laws.
Cannabis can be legally sold at licensed shops and people can carry up to five grams without prosecution. But cultivation and dealing is outlawed, which has created an illicit two billion Euro ...annual trade. The plantations would supply cannabis legally.
Marijuana policy is a slippery thing to get hold of; there's a libertarian case to be made for letting people waste their lives getting high on a drug whose ill effects are more similar to those of booze and cigarettes than to those of crack or meth or heroin, and of course there's the fact that enforcement against such a widely-used and easily-grown substance tends by nature to be arbitrary, invasive, cost-ineffective and shot through with hypocrisy. But legalization, as the Dutch have had time to experience, nonetheless presents its own perils. Personally, I tend to think the issue ought to be left to the most local governments possible, and the Dutch experiment reminds us that a local-control regime can lead even the most libertine communities gradually to wake up and smell the potheads.
But leaving it up to local or state law doesn't work in the USA, either. The feds still raid legal marijuana distributors in California...
And they are still the happiest nation on the planet. Hmm, now I know why.
Mike - It should go without saying that leaving things to local authorities requires the feds to butt out.
Fighting a drug war against dope is an uphill battle on a hill that is infinitely tall. It's not winnable in any sense of the word, it's ridiculous from a wide variety of perspectives and the "war" itself likely does more damage than the dope it is seeking to fester out. Is legalization the answer? Who the hell knows? Just cause the Dutch way of doing it hasn't turned out to be the "best" way doesn't mean that making it legal, making some tax bucks off it and giving up the endless stream of money going against it isn't an idea to be strongly considered. What we do in this country on it makes less sense than what the Dutch do and that is not just limited to dope.
There really is no case to be made for criminalizing pot. SEx carries risks but we dont criminalize it do we? We may limit when it occurs establish age thresholds and the like but after youre an adult, youre an adult. Same goes with cigarettes, alcohol too. Marijuana has some harmful effects, but on balance far less so than alcohol which has been legal for decades without clamor to bring back prohibiton and everything that comes with it.
Robert, Georgia prosecuted a couple for having sex a couple of years ago. And another state (maybe also Georgia, don't remember really) did the same to a gay couple. And lots of folks want to regulate who gets married.
Drug policy in this country is a failure from whatever angle it's looked at, with unfortunate ripples to other countries from Mexico to Columbia to Afghanistan. It's created a government at "War" with a sizable minority of it's citizenry and is largely responsible for the "Land of the Free" imprisoning more of it's population than any other country in the world.
There really is no case to be made for criminalizing pot. . . . Marijuana has some harmful effects, but on balance far less so than alcohol which has been legal for decades without clamor to bring back prohibiton and everything that comes with it. "
The difference between alcohol and pot is that pot is much more difficult to regulate once it is legalized. Sure, you could establish age restrictions for marijuana, but it would be a joke. The age restrictions on alcohol is reasonably effective because it's hard to produce it on your own. In contrast, it's much easier to grow your own (and conceal) marijuana than it is to make your own alcohol. Teens can evade that law easily.
You won't hear me argue that marijuana is any worse than alcohol, but you need to keep the stigma of the illegality of marijuana. If that stigma is gone, there is practically no effective barrier to its use by teens or any other group you want to regulate.