If you’ve done any serious living of the dream, you’ve probably been to Amsterdam. The city is filled with scenic canals, cool museums, and fit bikers peddling their way around town. That’s why someone like my mother loved visiting. It also has a seedier side, including the infamous red light district. Most unique of all, however, are its 220 coffee shops, where patrons can purchase marijuana joints for a few dollars, to be smoked with reggae blaring in the background and soccer on the television screens. Unfortunately, thanks to the right wing, which ruins all things good all over the world, that era is coming to an end.
The recent Dutch elections produced the most conservative governing coalition in recent memory- it includes the racist, Islamophobic party of Geert Wilders, of “Ground Zero mosque” fame. “In order to tackle nuisance and criminality,” the government is about to jettison the main reason it is a tourist destination for young people from around the world.
The Netherlands should be applauded for its formerly enlightened policy, which promoted drug treatment for addicts and regulated sales of natural products like marijuana (and mushrooms, which are sold under far stricter conditions). Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, libertarian candidate for President, has long touted Netherlands as having the world’s best drug policies.
The new government policy will ban anyone from a coffee shop without a “membership”, which can be distributed in limited supply by every coffee shop to individuals residing in the Netherlands for more than a year.
As a former “flying Dutchman” in my track and field days, a former member of a Dutch Reformed Church, and a lifelong resident of New Amsterdam, I’ll always have a soft spot for the Dutch. Amsterdam was the city where I began my glorious European adventures during the 2006 World Cup. That’s why it pains me so to see them enact such a foolish law.
Hopefully they won’t be following in the footsteps of Mayor Bloomberg, whose police force has arrested more individuals for marijuana possession than Mayors Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani combined. In 2011, it is a joke that we are sending poor teenagers to jail for something that is widely accepted behind closed doors.