I left Amsterdam last week, after the shit hit the fan in Michigan, and the Dutch authorities were striving to match the sheer idiocy of the anti-marijuana crusaders in the United States by forcing 58 licensed cannabis coffeeshops out of business pursuant to a recent dictum that weed can’t be offered for consumption within 350 meters of a secondary school. “The cabinet does not want pupils’ education careers going up in smoke,” puffed education minister Marja van Bijsterveldt.
These grandstanding plays aimed at the most regressive sector of the citizenry look noble and civic-minded on the surface, but, in fact, have no actual relevance in terms of public safety. The coffeeshops being shut down have existed in proximity to the schools for 30 or 40 years with no appreciable impact on the student population.
In fact, nothing is more difficult in the Centrum of Amsterdam than minors acquiring cannabis products at a coffeeshop — or even getting up to the hash counter to order up some smoke. Strict ID checks are conducted without fail, because minors on the premises are grounds for immediate suspension of the shop’s cannabis privileges. Even if the school were next door to the coffeeshop, no students would be allowed entry in any event — ever.
Like raiding growrooms and linking growing to “serious crime” and “criminal violence,” shutting down marijuana outlets because of their proximity to a schoolhouse is an entirely cynical political ploy directed at the addled denizens of the religious and secular right in a last-ditch attempt to stave off the ever-encroaching rule of reason. But the real shame is that these small, independent businesses are being hounded out of existence in increasing numbers.
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