Switzerland and Copenhagen – beyond cannabis tolerance (part one)

8 12 2011

coffeeshop stickerThe policy of ‘soft drug tolerance’ in the Netherlands is probably the most well-known example of a country attempting to regulate the use and sale of cannabis. Recognising that marijuana and hashish consumption cause very little social or personal harm, Holland’s laws were changed to differentiate relatively benign soft drugs from genuinely harmful hard drugs.

Low rate of cannabis consumption

Not only did this free citizens from unreasonable prosecution, the law change had the positive effect of separating the cannabis market from the hard drug black market, so that cannabis was not sold alongside dangerous, addictive substances. As a result, Holland boasts the lowest rates of hard drug use in the Western world, and even has a significantly lower rate of cannabis consumption than most comparable countries.

Sadly, the Dutch tolerance model is under attack from the current government of the Netherlands, and there are regular attempts to undermine the rational drug laws that have benefited the country for the last three and a half decades.

Reform of cannabis laws in Europe

Nevertheless, the undeniable success of the Dutch model has had an impact on the policy of other European countries. Spain, Portugal and Belgium have made advances in decriminalising small-scale personal growing and possession, while the Czech Republic and Slovakia are likely to reform their laws soon.

It’s also worth remembering that two other European nations enjoyed an enviable amount of cannabis freedom up until the mid-2000s. Denmark (specifically Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen) and Switzerland tolerated open sales of marijuana and hashish, though neither country had officially decriminalised cannabis at the time.

A cannabis vendor in Christiania, in 2002

A cannabis vendor in Christiania, in 2002

Christiania and the hash and marijuana trade

The Christiania hashish market began with the founding of the Freetown in 1971 and was tolerated by the Danish authorities on the principle that it reduced the association between cannabis and hard drugs, and also because concentrating the trade in one area was seen as preferable to having it dispersed throughout the country.

Swiss ‘aromatic pillows’ of cannabis

Cannabis growing on balconies in Geneva in 2008

Cannabis growing on balconies in Geneva in 2008

In Switzerland, there was a brief flourishing of shops which sold bags of herbal cannabis as ‘aromatic pillows’ or ‘bath scents’, on the proviso that the contents were not for human consumption. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Swiss farmers grew cannabis by hundreds of hectares and were said to be producing over 100 tonnes of marijuana per year.

Reversal of advances in cannabis freedom

Between 2004 and 2006, instead of further liberalisation, the authorities in both countries made serious attempts to stamp out these advances in cannabis freedom. The Swiss cannabis shops were closed and large-scale, open cultivation more or less ceased. The Christiana hash market was dismantled by its own traders one day before the Copenhagen police were scheduled to carry out a raid and shut it down.

The demand for cannabis has not been reduced

These days, the Christiana market has more or less returned to its normal state and, predictably, the demand for cannabis is Switzerland has not been reduced by the abolishment of the shops that allowed it to be bought with ease and safety.

Source: Sensi Seeds





French newspaper Le Figaro warns of cannabis cyber-police and fictional worldwide cannabis seed shipping

31 03 2011

In these times of increasing repression in France, national daily ‘Le Figaro’ shows its true colours as a propaganda tool rather than a source of factual information.

An article published on the website of Le Figaro last week (23rd March 2011)  aroused our curiosity as, in addition to vague threats about cyberpolice, it mentioned the well-known cannabis seed company Sensi Seeds on several occasions.

Picture used to illustrate what you can buy online, according to the paper

Fact or propaganda? An extract from the beginning of the article states:

“ [Based] In the Netherlands, the Sensi Seed website unapologetically advertises their ‘cannabis seedbank’ in all languages. They sell complete culture tents, similar in size  to wardrobes, ‘bloom boosters’ and even teach how to ‘grow with the Moon,’ to optimize growth according to the lunar calendar. From “Shiva Shanti” at 20 euros for ten seeds to the “Marley’s Collie”, 120 euros, “a strain of ganja celebrated by the great Bob Marley”, the bank offers hundreds of varieties. And even accessories: caps, t-shirts, playing cards. Everything is available worldwide, sent in express parcels.” Read the rest of this entry »





Dutch Coffeeshops Closed To Tourists?

22 11 2010

coffeshop signPlans released this month for a pass system to exclude non-residents from Dutch coffeeshops are causing concern amongst cannabis users around the world. Citing the problems of crime and ‘social nuisance’ caused by foreign tourists smoking cannabis, the new and still unstable coalition government wants to make the coffeeshops into private clubs where only adults who live in the Netherlands can become members.

It is currently unclear whether this will be overruled by EU law which prevents discrimination in business trading, or pass on the grounds that the substance being traded is not fully legal and therefore not protected by legislation.

What is clear is that, if implemented, this plan will remove most of the revenue generated by coffeeshops- an estimated €1.8 billion per year- as well as costing many coffeeshop employees their jobs, in the middle of an economic crisis.

However, this plan was first discussed by the government in 2003 and still nothing concrete has been announced. Confidence in the new coalition is not high, with a recent poll showing that only 28% of voters expect it to last a full term.

Shamefully, this plan represents a complete reversal of Holland’s successful tolerance policy which has led to the country having the lowest rates of drug abuse in the developed world.





Fox News?

15 12 2008

We know one half of the “news” on Fox is made-up and the other half is just too silly to even take serious, but we thought it was necessary to show you this segment of the Bill O’Reilly show. Anyone who has ever been to Amsterdam knows these so-called experts have either never been, are lying or both. Still it is sad that a story as ridiculous as this can be broadcast on American television.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Just some facts to prove that the “naive” ideas the Dutch have, as Margaret Hoover so elegantly puts it, clearly do work.

“The amount of coffeeshops has been on the decline ever since 2000. The amount of 16 to 34 years people that has used cocaine in the last 12 months is about one percent in the Netherlands. Compared with the UK (5.4), Spain (5.2) and the US (3.4) this is very low. The use of cannabis is also low in the Netherlands compared to most other countries. The use of cannabis in Holland is 10 percent, compared to Spain (20), the US (19), France (17) and the UK (16) this number clearly shows the cannabis policy in the Netherlands does work.

It seems that Fox News needs to get it’s facts straight, assuming that they care at all about the facts.

Sources:





Top 5 Cannabis myths

6 11 2008

mythsThere are almost more myths about cannabis then there are people that smoke it. Some people spread these rumours because its in their best business interest, like the DEA, paper industry or the petrochemical industry.

These issues are no surprise to the well informed cannabis enthusiast and even the experts sometimes have difficultly separating the facts from fiction.

In an attempt to help you separate facts from fiction we have composed a top 5 of cannabis myths:

With special thanks to drugpolicy.org for being the excellent source of information they are.

Read the rest of this entry »








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