I have a lighter which says “Man made beer, God made pot; who do you trust?”.
I think I got it sometime at a faire, when I was doing my usual ritual; shooting tin cans or something similar. Needless to say, it didn’t take long before the lighter stopped working, but nonetheless it still looks nice, especially with that slogan on the front.
Even though there are reasons to move out of Holland, such as the current government and the weather, there are also reasons to stay here, or at least keep a pied a terre as the french call it. One of those reasons is, of course, the legal status of cannabis here. It’s not entirely legal, but consumption is allowed. Coffeeshops, as we call the shops where you can buy cannabis products, have a license to have a certain size of stock, and to sell it. However, they have to buy it from their suppliers illegally!
Anyway, that’s just a little bit of background info for whoever is completely new to this phenomenon. I suppose most people know about our liberal soft drug policies. But it creates a stereotype, because every time I meet foreigners and I tell them I’m dutch, the first thing they ask is if I have some weed with me! Now besides that being not so far from the truth, I always deny any sort of involvement. After all, just because it is legal here doesn’t mean that everyone is getting high here, on the contrary; I think our liberal drug policies are better than the zero tolerance policies in other countries. Of course that is an infinite discussion, but there are a few things you should take into account.
The identification of the hemp plant with a so called ‘dangerous’ is the result of nothing more than a myth, which was created because of private interests by big businessmen in the US. There is no proof whatsoever that cannabis is any more dangerous than, for example a widely accepted drug like alcohol. The only reason why hemp was declared illegal in the ‘States was because of economical interests, since hemp is a cheap resource and can be used in many different ways, such as paper, clothing, fuel, food, and it even has purifying properties. Imagine what hemp would do to the cotton market in the US, then the decision to lobby against hemp, linking it to marijuana, seems more like an economic move, than an idealistic one.
But apart from the various industrial applications of the hemp plant, I’m also a big supporter of the medicinal and recreational consumption of hemp. I was in a crowded coffeeshop the other day in Amsterdam, there was barely any place to sit, yet I felt completely at ease. Usually I tend to avoid crowded places, especially bars, where alcohol is being consumed in big quantities. I almost never feel totally comfortable in those places, because of a certain kind of aggressiveness in the air; there are often some idiots looking for a fight, not to mention that people tend to get loud and uncivilized. But in that coffeeshop, I felt really comfortable, because everyone is chilled out and laid back. People are open to each other, the atmosphere is full of love.
Now I would like that to be possible in other countries too. So that when I go on a holiday, I don’t have to wait for a shady guy in the middle of the night on a basketball court to get a crappy twig of grass. I remember that’s how we did it in the Philippenes; a stereotype like in the movies. Next to that, I don’t think that the actual consumption of cannabis is much less compared to here. You can buy weed anywhere in the world whether it’s legal or not. The only real difference is economical; in Holland a large part of the population profits from the cannabis market, whereas in countries where cannabis is illegal the market is consolidated, so that drug cartels have a monopoly position, making lots of money, while the people get nothing. At the same time these cartels have such a financial power that they can bribe governments to look the other way. In some cases the cartels are so powerful that they can even antagonize the government in public, as is the case in many Latin American countries.
Of course, this is going beyond soft drugs now, since we’re starting to enter the spheres of the cocaine and opium market. But the principle is the same; illegal products create a consolidated market, on both sides. If we stick with the Latin American example, we can see that the US is the biggest importer of these illegal substances. There have been many claims regarding the CIA being involved in drug smuggling operations, and that’s not surprising. Keep in mind that these drug cartels go beyond national interests; these guys are not patriots, they belong to an international group who control the black markets one way or another all over the world. The reality of the situation only supports this, because the biggest exporting countries are torn apart by poverty and war. In turn, the West is allowing this situation to continue, while pretending to be acting against it, by starting a war on drugs.
In reality, this war on drugs seems more like a war on the Afro-American, who is socially isolated, and is looking for ways to make a living. At the same time this lifestyle is being identified with the glitter and glamour of nowadays rap artists, because that is what MTV is broadcasting the whole day. What is going on here? Does someone up there want to perpetuate this situation, in which young men get tangled up in a downward spiral of violence, which can only lead to more misery? They’re definitely not trying to bring peace.
Whoever thinks that those guys are actually living in the hood are badly deceived. They wanted nothing more than to get out of that place. There is no glory in killing your own people. How can you talk about fraternity, when you kill your brothers just because they wear a different color bandana? There have been a few individuals in history who had the power to unite the people together, and unfortunately, those guys all ended up dying in mysterious ways. I’m starting to see a pattern here.
Anyway, to go back to the economic consequence of a synthetic free market as I call it, where governments, or more accurate would be to say, the manipulation of governments by private interests, have the power to declare certain products illegal, is something that transcends the drug market. This is something that is happening on every corner of the global market, whether it being food, clothes, or electronics. When a product is declared illegal, then it also consolidates the legal market, giving certain people a monopoly position. Take a look at the clothing industry, where corporations make a killing out of exploited labor in under developed countries, while the ‘illegal’ clothing that is fabricated in those same countries, which is basically the same stuff, just without the label, is not allowed to enter our market here. The result is that we buy clothes which are way too expensive, and that all the money goes to a small group of people; they’re screwing both their workers and their consumers!
It is safe to assume that there is no free market at all. Free for those with money perhaps, because laws are made in their interest, not the people’s. Some people call me a communist, but that’s nonsense. All I say is that the market should either be truly free, or truly controlled. Anything in between is prone to inevitable injustice.
Tomorrow I’m moving in to my new place. I’ll get some weed to celebrate, thank God I live in Holland!