Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dutch extend EU smoking ban to marijuana coffee shops

Well this sounds screwed up.

The EU ban only covers tobacco, not marijuana. However the Dutch and other European marijuana users traditionally smoke pot in fat, cone-shaped joints mixed with tobacco. 

Therefore the ban applies to the cafes, known as coffee shops, that sell marijuana. CNEWS here.
"It's the world upside down: In other countries they look for the marijuana in the cigarette. Here they look for the cigarette in the marijuana," said Jason den Enting, manager of coffee shop Dampkring.
Shops are scrambling to adapt. One alternative is "vaporizer" machines, which incinerate weed smokelessly. Another is to replace tobacco with herbs like coltsfoot, a common plant that looks like a dandelion and that smokers describe as tasting a bit like oregano.
But most shops are just planning to increase their sales of hash brownies and pure weed - and are hoping the law isn't enforced.
Although possession is illegal in the Netherlands, smokers are not prosecuted for holding up to 5 grams. The government's "tolerance" policy realizes that the public will smoke pot and they might as well let them do it in "an orderly way".
Cannabis abuse in Holland ranks somewhere in the middle compared to other nations and is lower than in the U.S., France and England, according to statistics compiled by the United Nations' Office on Drugs and Crime.
Meanwhile in Canada, Bill C-26 that proposes mandatory minimums for marijuana offences went through second reading in April and has been referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
"A person who grows one marijuana plant would face a minimum of six months in jail. And [that] mandatory penalty for one plant goes up to nine months in jail if it's in a rental house or in a residential area."

"While the former federal Liberal government considered decriminalizing marijuana, the current Conservative government has announced its intention to increase pot sentences as part of its get-tough-on-crime platform." 
Canada's Bill C-26 info here.


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