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The drug trade has wrecked Amsterdam Soft policies caused disorder and violent crime

Evert Elzinga/AFP/Getty Images


October 24, 2022   6 mins

Amsterdam

“It’s fine on the other side, it’s fine on the other side!” sing five rowdy, dancing Brits, to the tune of the Pet Shop Boys’ “Go West”. On the other side of the 14th century Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal, a cluster of partying men yodel back. It is midnight on a Friday in the heart of Amsterdam’s De Wallen district, and I am on a reconnaissance tour with Amsterdam’s Night Watch.

This is not the Night Watch memorialised by Rembrandt in 1642, the civic militia that would defend the city of Amsterdam from outside attack. Now the enemy is within, in the area named for the old city walls, but now infamous as the red-light district of Amsterdam. Els Iping and her neighbour Romeo are pacing the streets. Armed with quiet words and high-vis jackets, they are part of the “Wallen Watch”, a local vigilante defence force against drunken, doped-up tourists on raucous, licentious holidays.

When tourists slip behind chains intended to dissuade them from trespassing on people’s doorways to smoke weed, when there are strippers dancing on bars without a sex licence, when two groups of British tourists share their version of 1980s hits with entire neighbourhoods, Els politely takes note. “Please could you be quiet,” says this grandmother and former politician, who has lived in the Red Light District for four decades. “People live here.” To my amazement, every time, the tourists (often British) look abashed, say sorry and go on their way.

Why have the people of Amsterdam been forced to take public order into their own hands again? Because six decades of tolerating sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll have turned their city centre into a non-stop Saturnalia for visitors “on holiday from their morals” (as former Labour councillor Dennis Boutkan memorably put it). But morality aside, it is also a question of numbers: with thousands packing out the roads and streets on weekend nights, it is sometimes impossible for even emergency vehicles to access the area. And Els and Romeo are not alone in believing all this has been facilitated by the legal grey area of state policy on soft drugs.

Romeo, who has lived for six years at the heart of all this, says that when he leaves for his morning work at 4am, there are frequently still groups of screaming tourists. “With the corona rules, the place was empty in a day,” he says wistfully. “I saw people who live here, who never dared to sit outside before, having a picnic.” Now the pandemic lockdowns are gone, the tourists are back. And 47% of them are tempted to Amsterdam by the coffeeshops, although it’s clearly the combination of party behaviour (drinking, screeching, leering, urinating, with a spliff on the side) that creates the most localised nuisance. “We started last year with 30 people,” Els tells me. “Six people have moved away. It’s noise you can’t arm yourself against. We are desperate
but I don’t want them to win.”

“They”, in her view, are the businesses that have everything to gain from a loud and cash-filled Red Light District: the drug dealers offering a menu from pills to cocaine, the brothel owners, the 166 cannabis “coffeeshops” (100 serving tourist demand alone), plus sweet shops, bars and restaurants (for those with the munchies). Some may be set up by upright businessmen; some, says the mayor of Amsterdam, are part of criminal networks. Thanks to the opaque business constructions common in the Netherlands, it’s hard to tell them apart.

And for local residents, ironically, the Dutch idea of “tolerance” has become completely intolerable. The prostitution windows where sometimes-trafficked foreign women show off their cosmetically enhanced wares, the raucous bars, the coffeeshops where cannabis is sold and smoked, feel like an invasion: not a liberal paradise, but a human zoo from another age. A soft drugs policy that was ahead of its time in the Sixties has stranded the Netherlands in a no man’s land between controlled legalisation and arrant criminality. Under the Opium Act, a policy of toleration or gedoogbeleid means that the state allows “coffeeshops” to be established, taxed, and to sell cannabis to customers for consumption on site. However, since commercial cannabis growing is illegal, they have to buy from criminals.

Mayor Femke Halsema, the deputy mayors and heads of the local police and public prosecution are convinced that the situation is untenable. Halsema believes that full legalisation and regulation of cannabis — and also cocaine — is the answer. In the meantime, she wants to enforce an existing national law to ban tourists from coffeeshops in order to shrink the sector. A majority of city councillors, concerned about more vulnerable young men being sucked into dealing to meet tourist demand and a consequent explosion in street crime, voted against her proposal this month.

Diederik Boomsma, councillor and head of the local Christian Democratic Appeal party, is one strong advocate of banning tourists from coffeeshops and is raising awareness about the dangers of drug use. “Peter Hitchens wrote a book about the drug policy in Britain and it starts with saying: cannabis isn’t merely a drug: it’s a cause,” he tells me. “That’s true in Amsterdam more than in other places and when something becomes a cause, people associate it with their self-understanding as a free, liberal, open-minded, tolerant city. But it doesn’t work. On the one hand, we say it’s allowed, you can buy the stuff in this coffeeshop, but it’s supplied by criminals so obviously you are going to have a huge criminal infrastructure. Why would you do something that funds violent criminals? Peter R de Vries was murdered right in front of my house.”

He is referring to the murder of a Dutch journalist who had been advising the crown witness against an alleged drug cartel — a killing which shocked the country into paying attention to its drugs problem. It was the third execution linked with the Marengo murder trial (involving leading members of a Dutch-Moroccan criminal organisation) following the deaths of the crown witness’s brother and his lawyer. For while the Netherlands’s transport links and horticultural and technical skills have made it a perfect landing-point for South American drugs (alongside its hugely successful domestic drug industry), this has brought violence in its wake. Experts like Jan Struijs, chairman of the Nederlandse PolitieBond police union, go as far as to call the country a “narco-state 2.0.”

Threats that the Telegraaf newspaper suggests come from the quarter of organised crime have recently even been aimed at Dutch Princess Amalia and Prime Minister Mark Rutte. And four suspects were arrested in and around The Hague on suspicion of preparing to kidnap Belgian justice minister Vincent van Quickenborne, after Dutch drug gang violence spilled over into Antwerp this summer. Across the Netherlands, drug experts like Pieter Tops and Jan Tromp — who wrote an influential 2019 report on the “dark side” of Amsterdam — believe some coffeeshops are part of a chain of ever more violent and lucrative drugs criminality, with shops, bars and property used to launder the money (part of a dodgy €16 billion a year that washes around the country, according to the De Nederlandsche Bank).

It’s a desperate situation, with the Dutch government investing millions in deterring crime that undermines public order, and putting together international partnerships to make its coastline “as unappealing as possible” for drug criminals importing their products. The public prosecutor finally has a larger budget to go after crime that has seeped into the “upper” world: lawyers, art galleries, accountants, banks and even civil servants who have committed alleged passport fraud, sold private details, failed to properly scrutinise their clients, or been over-eager to take payment in cash.

The justice minister of the Netherlands, Dilan YeƟilgöz-Zegerius doesn’t think legalisation by the Netherlands alone will do much, but admits the tolerance policy on cannabis really isn’t working. “If I’m honest, the ‘back door’ as we have it now in the Netherland, that [soft drugs] are tolerated but you can’t grow them, is very difficult to explain,” she tells me, after a meeting of European justice ministers in Amsterdam.

“Abroad, people look at you as though you are crackers. One point of view is that weed and soft drugs are another sector, another branch, with hard-working entrepreneurs and nothing wrong. But there’s also a notion that this is an entry point for cartels and other levels of drug dealing. You need to look at this very carefully.” She hopes that a much-delayed trial of legalised growing within 10 local areas begins soon so the ministry can analyse whether regulated cannabis growing reduces criminality. Meanwhile, others countries are experimenting with more permissive approaches to cannabis. Uruguay made the drug legal in 2013, followed by Canada, Mexico and some US states. Medical usage was legalised in Portugal in 2018 and Thailand is turning a blind eye, to stimulate tourism.

While some people, including Amsterdam’s mayor Halsema and the attorney for the Marengo crown witness, Peter Schouten, believe legalising and regulating drugs is the only way to sort out the situation in the Netherlands, others want to send a message that drug tourism isn’t welcome. Boomsma has proposed a ban on weed smoking in public in the centre of Amsterdam, and believes his motion will get a council majority this year.

In the meantime, the situation in De Wallen — even compared with the bad old days of heroin addicts on the streets — is relentless for local people like Els and Romeo. While some political parties are focused on the problems of vulnerable districts on the outskirts, Els and Romeo point out that it is madness to make any part of the city essentially unliveable at a time of desperate housing need. Even some of the tourists seem blown away by it all. A young Australian woman emerging from the Casa Rosso “erotic theatre” at the end of the night on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal, seems a bit dazed. “I need to wash off the filth,” she says, looking around and only half-joking.

The Netherlands needs more than a shower of liberal platitudes to clean up De Wallen. It needs clear drugs policy, a flashlight on criminal constructions and a power hose.


Senay Boztas is a journalist living in Amsterdam.


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Aaron James
Aaron James
1 year ago

It comes as a surprise to the Neo-Liberals that creating a Sodom and Gomorrah in your city has down sides. San Francisco, Portland, LA, Seattle, NYC, how amazed they are. Naturally they think more regulating, more money thrown at it……

But the thing is the real harm is not the anti-social stuff you see; it is the moral decay of everyone who becomes normalized to this degeneracy of prostitution and drugs and organized crime.ï»ż

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Fantastic spot for stag do’s though. It would cost Amsterdam millions in tourism to ban foreigners from the coffee shops, however it surprises me the Dutch have never actually bothered to regulate it rather than leaving the whole thing in the control of the underworld.
I’d always assumed the dope was legally grown and the red light area much more stringently policed.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

No, but I think there are powerful vested interests that prefer the laws to be grey rather than black and white. The Netherlands is very egalitarian until you rise high enough and realize that it’s not.

james james
james james
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Geofence dog containment collar is the best way to keep your buddy safe in the yard.

Liam Brady
Liam Brady
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

What’s NOT mentioned are the problems caused by alcohol. Much worse affects than cannabis in any town centre.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam Brady

The duties on alcohol raise billions of dollars annually. If the government don’t spend some of that on extra police to stop things getting out of hand then that’s their own problem

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam Brady

Why do you only mention cannabis? There is a great range of associated drugs, and a great range of other drugs.
In contrast, ‘alcohol’ is only ethyl alcohol, and has been produced and drunk though history as part of local culture, albeit now globalised.
It remains illegal in a few countries the cultures of which turned against it. Does its illegality or discouragement in such places create the same massive problems of addiction and extreme violent crime?

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

What a lazy idea it was to think that everything would work out through a tolerant point of view.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

A laziness outmatched by the idea that the war on drugs works.

Ibn Sina
Ibn Sina
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Indeed – Either fully criminalise or fully legalise. We’ve seen what happens with full criminalisation. Time to move the other way. Remember prohibition and don’t tell me that drugs are different. Think of the tax revenue that could be raised from legal recreational drugs.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ibn Sina
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago
Reply to  Ibn Sina

Drugs are different.

Last edited 1 year ago by Colin Elliott
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

It has never been properly tried

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
1 year ago

Like communism.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

So Holland has had 60 years to fix these problems, has not, and this is the fault of weed shops? Spare me. Who is to blame for the stupidity of allowing cannabis to be sold in shops, but not legally produced, or taxed? Call them out.
No mention of alcohol as a problem. Has the author not noticed that similar rowdiness is common in many hot capitals in Europe, or that alcohol makes meek people rowdy, whilst cannabis makes rowdy people meek? She also failed to see the chasm between the worlds of cocaine, heroin, and to a lesser extent MDMA – fantastic profits, and therefore terrifying violence and disruption, and cannabis. She would better spend her reading hours on informed writers, Roberto Saviano for example, rather than the egregious Peter Hitchins.

Nathan Hale
Nathan Hale
1 year ago

Anyone who believes that the popularization of the use of profoundly powerful mood modifying agents, not excluding marijuana, has had anything other than utterly ruinous effects on once well ordered Western societies is perceiving reality through eyes of the sort that were characterized by William Blake:

“The eye that is altered alters all.”

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Nathan Hale

Western societies have been getting drunk for centuries, and have had opium dens and cocaine in the not too distant past. None of which proved to be utterly ruinous for society as a whole, even if it did get the better of some individuals

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Just to finish destroying this article as nonsense check out the crime rate compared to London:
https://www.numbeo.com/crime/compare_cities.jsp?country1=United+Kingdom&city1=London&country2=Netherlands&city2=Amsterdam

Amsterdam is THE FOURTH SAFEST CITY IN THE WORLD

QUOTE:
Is Amsterdam safe to live or visit alone? Read up on how safe Amsterdam is at night and in the Red Light District, plus if there are any areas to avoid as a newcomer.

Is Amsterdam safe to travel? Yes, Amsterdam is a safe city to visit. In the last Safe City Index (2019), Amsterdam ranked fourth position in the list of safest cities in the world.

Though you can buy marihuana freely in coffee shops, smart drugs in smart shops and prostitution is legal, Amsterdam is not a dangerous city.

The city does especially well in regards to traffic. Because everyone travels by bike there are not many traffic accidents and the air in Amsterdam is not (very) polluted.

For crime, Amsterdam is also safe. The risk of violent assault in Amsterdam is pretty much absent, in all parts of the city. Also, crime rates in general in Amsterdam are going down every year.

CRIME DOWN EVERY YEAR
Source: https://www.expatica.com/nl/moving/location/is-amsterdam-safe-1126952/

Cor blimey, all propaganda is lies. Looks like unherd is riddled with it too.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Looks like unherd is riddled with it too.
Yes, I’ve come to realise that as well. The writers are generally ok, it’s the commentary – so many stale reactionaries huddling in their comfort zone echo chamber.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

I do not doubt that your source material is correct and this article too. The type of crime that is described in the article is quite different to the type of crime you indicate is absent. It is the creeping invidousness of crime into all levels of public life that is so damaging and of course the more general unruliness and anti social behaviour may not be violent in the way you describe but it is clearly not welcome to those that live in the city and reduces their sense of well being and security.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michelle Johnston
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago

It seems odd that they would have the burden of the industry without the benefit of regulating and taxing the production of marijuana. Particularly since they are famous for their agricultural sector it would seem logical to produce it locally and legally. The legalization of cannabis in Canada has been pretty drama free.

Methadras Aszlosis
Methadras Aszlosis
1 year ago

What have libertine values gotten Amsterdam with free-wheeling sex and drugs? Nothing but misery and heartache and no one will admit it for fear of looking like a moralistic puritan. It’s rubbish. If you want degenerate and degrading behavior to run rampant in your city, then why even stop at legalized drugs and prostitution? You think somehow that junkies and sex addicts will stay in their cloistered places?

Adam McDermont
Adam McDermont
1 year ago

Although I would describe myself as “socially conservative” and anti-degeneracy, I think there can be a positive balance struck here. Legalising the growing of cannabis, limiting the number of outlets that can sell it, and banning cannabis consumption in public seems a useful way forward. Places where people smoke it should be out of the way and anti-social behaviour put down forcefully. Drugs have a terrible impact on society, but I am not sure that legally prohibiting the alteration of consciousness is the best way to go.

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
1 year ago

There is something serendiptitous about this. Over on the FT an article about Singapore is concurrently approaching this from entirely the opposite end of the argument and remarking that “look at Thailand where you can smoke.” Indeed look at Bangkok?!
Why cannot Singapore liberalise? I was in Singapore for the weekend as they opened up a festival which celebrated all things French and paid tribute to such French attributes as the tour de france with an all day rally and Jazz at the outdoor arena in the Botanical Gardens. A celebration of skills and craft which was carried out in such away all age groups and familes could participate.
This study of Amsterdam puts paid to the idea that these things happen in a modular contained fashion they do not.
I should say the atmosphere in Singapore was up beat and full of natural vigour and human activity fuelled by nothing more than natural enthusiasm.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michelle Johnston
Kevin L
Kevin L
1 year ago

This writer is biased against weed. She probably belongs to one of the Christian Parties which whine to no end about weed — but fail to admonish alcohol driven violence!
Everything she described is attributed to alcohol (with the exception of the rare occasion of sitting on someone’s step to smoke).
The two main problems in A’dam are: 1. Brits and Americans & Alcohol 2. Alcohol & Soccer Games Alcohol.
Dear Author, If you’re going to submit anti-weed propaganda at least understand that weed smokers do not get violent.
Amsterdam’s violence and property destruction is 100% an alcohol issue.

Kevin L
Kevin L
1 year ago

This writer is biased against weed. She probably belongs to one of the Christian Parties which whine to no end about weed — but fail to admonish alcohol driven violence!
Everything she described is attributed to alcohol (with the exception of the rare occasion of sitting on someone’s step to smoke).
The two main problems in A’dam are: 1. Brits and Americans & Alcohol 2. Alcohol & Soccer Games Alcohol.
Dear Author, If you’re going to submit anti-weed propaganda at least understand that weed smokers do not get violent.
Amsterdam’s violence and property destruction is 100% an alcohol issue.

Kevin L
Kevin L
1 year ago

FYI: Too many comments here are from tourists or people who never lived in Amsterdam; and never visited any Dutch city/village.

Kevin L
Kevin L
1 year ago

FYI: Too many comments here are from tourists or people who never lived in Amsterdam; and never visited any Dutch city/village.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

I’ve only ever been once and that was enough: porn hookers boring people, appalling food and restaurants.. and one can get Amstel without having to go there.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

What was you expecting to find in Europes most famous red light district out of interest? Going there and complaining about the clientele and lack of high end restaurants is akin to going to an Stonehenge and moaning that all you saw was some old stones

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I visited and found it quite the opposite, we had a lovely time eating cake and laughing our heads off with all the tables around and people from all over the world. We went up an old working windmill which was awesome, the Amsterdam maritime museum was stunning, as was the Rijksmuseum, the canals and multitude of boats are a sight to see in themselves, the bakeries were next level. Then round other parts to arnhem to see the monster truck world finals – awesome, architecture in rotterdam is insane in places. Then we walked the Atlantic Wall bunkers at ijmuiden which were also AWESOME. For any ww2 or urbexing nuts out there I would fully recommend ijmuiden.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

I like Holland too, been a few times it’s great country and the most laid back people you can meet.
I just find it strange that people go to well known rowdy areas and then complain that it’s a bit rowdy. I’m not sure if it’s snobbery or an arrogance in believing that because you don’t enjoy something it must be wrong or stamped out, but that attitude annoys me. In the same way you wouldn’t go to Ibiza expecting high brow culture, or the Vatican expecting a rave, if you don’t like boozy bars and stoned people giggling in coffee shops then simply avoid the red light distract rather than trying to stop it for those that do enjoy it.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Sorry, I meant to reply to nicky, get your point there entirely! Especially agree with the snobbery/ arrogance – that attitude annoys me too. I pity the fool that managed to find Amsterdam boring! Also agree people are lovely, my cousins married to a Dutch lady, he moved there years ago for work.

Emmanuel MARTIN
Emmanuel MARTIN
1 year ago

What a dishonest piece of crap article. A pseudo-mix of reporting on organized mafia and pretending that in order to curtain organized crime it is needed to bow to the knees of arrogant liberal gentrifiers. f**k gentrifiers, f**k NIMBY, and f**k to whoever portrays these clandestine passagers of urban vibrancy as “community minded citizens”
Amsterdam is a very big city, and contains a lot of neighboroods whose more residential mood would better accomodate the lifestye peferences of “Els and Romeo”.
Not every street in the world as to be a santized suburbia, and the Red Light district is bringing a lot of appeal, culture, toursists and economic activity to the Netherlands, as well as a pleasant relief for travelling brittons. Lots of people will be happy with getting cheap housing downotown Amsterdam in a district with specific nuisances, and accept ht this district might be noisy or require more policing than other areas.
Yet the people who back those “model citizens” Els and Romeo are just predatory house flippers who want to turn an historic neighborood into another wealthy bourgeois enclave with “cltural cachet” by expropriating the neighborrods historical acivty. I think those people are despicable scum, that they impose large costs on society by confiscating downtown areas that have the most proximity to landmark site, transport nodes and activity centers and privatize those districts for residential bourgeois villages. The downtown areas of big cities should have urban plannig that serves the whole country, not NIMBY gentrifiers..

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
1 year ago

Yes, what a pleasant relief it is to promote the trafficking and sexual exploitation (and occasional murder) of women (only women though so not important), and the availability of a drug known to have a high risk of causing paranoid, aggressive behaviour and episodic psychosis in its users (literally the first dopehead I ever met (in 1982) was a paranoid, potentially violent, actually threatening (i.e. issuing threats) individual who hated women). How awful to live in a ‘nimby’, ‘bourgeois’ area where these things are missing.
And anyone who thinks that ‘suburbia’ is ‘sanitised’ has been probably watching too many shows on TV, and believing them.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

As one commenter notes: alcohol makes meek people rowdy, whilst cannabis makes rowdy people meek
I would suggest that it is the over-indulgence in alcohol that promotes unruly behavior. Perhaps simply moving the pubs out of the red light district would severely reduce the commotion.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Alcohol deaths yearly – 3.000,000 annually, 5% of all deaths, 13% of young deaths. The figures for cannabis – essentially 0%, and 0%. Cannabis does not have a ‘high risk’ of causing psychosis, it has a very low risk of triggering psychosis, in those who are susceptible, usually when it is used at high levels for many weeks, months.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

No counterpoints, just downticks – the sign of the herd.

Nathan Hale
Nathan Hale
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

By any who are prepared to acknowledge the actualities of the matter, exposure to marijuana, particularly but not exclusively as it is in its contemporary, highly hybridized, incarnations, is understood to have readily identifiable schizophrenigenic and psychotomimetic effects. For verification of that contention, one need only consult relevant medical literature:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3927252/ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

https://www.livescience.com/17707-marijuana-thc-brain-psychosis.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6861931/

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/cannabis-induced-psychosis-review

https://journals.lww.com/indianjpsychiatry/Fulltext/2014/56010/Cannabis_and_psychosis__Neurobiology.3.aspx

Last edited 1 year ago by Nathan Hale
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Nathan Hale

Exactly. The marijuana being sold today is nothing at all like that of the seventies. A retired friend of mine, a few years ago, started smoking it again and suddenly experienced profound short term memory loss – so profound I assumed he’d had a stroke. And this was days after his most recent contact with the drug. But several CAT scans and MRIs later they concluded he had nothing like that going on. He stopped smoking the dope and there has been no recurrence.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Youre wrong Dom, THC levels in cannabis are much higher now and so is the risk of psychosis, I speak from personal experience, I was hospitalised for 2 weeks after a psychotic episode due to ‘skunk’, it is NOT harmless as you infer.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Thanks for the replies. However, they don’t speak to me. I am fully aware that THC levels have gone up 2 or 3 fold; and nowhere did I claim that MJ is harmless – most things, drugs, activities, ideas, are a mix of harmful, innocuous, beneficial. You have to look at the overall profile to ascertain what we should do about them. In these terms, MJ is one of the safest drugs around, and has many beneficial effects. I’m sorry to hear of your hospitalisation Carl, but not surprised as it happens to thousands of people each year, and I have met a few. At least three factors are also relevant: (1) prohibition is the driver and the maintainer of the THC increase. The market is unregulated and the law does not distinguish between a kilo of 20% THC, and one of 6% THC (2) What skunk is to 1960’s weed is what beer is to whiskey – you just use less. Inexperienced people lack the knowledge of responsible use – simply banning it all is a really half-arsed answer. With tobacco and alcohol, govt uses the huge tax incomes to fund educational and health interventions (3) MJ use has been found to lead to substantial decreases in alcohol use (booze is, by far and away more lethal, harmful to body and mind, causes more dangerous and violent behaviour) (4) The link between psychosis and MJ is not clear – though it can certainly cause paranoia and anxiety, this soon wears off, though if you have a underlying issue, the problems may be longer -term. There is a huge self-selection bias – people with MH problems often use MJ, as it has therapeutic effects alongside the negative.

The police know this, the courts know this, Doctors know this, users know this. It only remains controversial in politics.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

https://m.imdb.com/title/tt9652248/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/8241908/goggleboxs-steph-and-dom-parker-chronically-ill-son-cannabis/amp/

I agree with you on this, bit of info for others:
Steph and dom from gogglebox trying to get medicinal mj for epileptic son (was broadcast on c4 so should be on 4od) based on others very positive experience, well worth a watch for any doubters of the benefits of medicinal mj, and the resistance of big pharma to it. Big pharma can’t charge you for a plant you could grow in your garden. Takes all the profit out.
I linked you prof. David nutt above too, he backs up much of what you say.
He’s researching psilocybin at the moment, I’m pretty sure they found it more effective than anti depressants for treating depression and anxiety though I’d have to look it up for the exact findings.

My cousin lives in Amsterdam working for a bank, visited him a few times, he likes it so much he hasn’t bothered to come back to the UK, it was lovely, clean streets, millions of bikes, we used the buses at night felt very safe, amazing Chinese quarter, lovely bakeries. Have to say I think this article is pants compared to my own experience. We have a camper travelled all round the Netherlands, honestly one of the nicest, cleanest, countries to tour.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Nathan Hale
Nathan Hale
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

THC levels have been increased 2 -3 fold?

In 2019, researchers in the Netherlands secured samples of the marijuana that was then being purveyed in Dutch coffeehouses.
The researcher’s analyses of the multiplicity of samples that they obtained revealed to them that the average concentration of THC in contemporary marijuana was not 2-3 times as great as it had been in the 1970s and 1980s but 19 times as great, so great, in reality, as to possess hallucinogenic potential corresponding with that of LSD.
The ruinously deleterious effects of marijuana exposure, on the individual and society, remain obscure only to those who refuse to associate that which is associable and to correlate that which is correlative.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Nathan Hale

Yes, 2-3 x :
https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/03/23/pot-evolution-how-the-makeup-of-marijuana-has-changed-over-time/

Moreover, just because you can get that 3 x strength that is not to say it’s typical or easily acquired, or even that popular. In countries that have properly legalised it – ie not Holland – these factors are on the packaging, as with spirits, wine, beer.
 in reality, as to possess hallucinogenic potential corresponding with that of LSD.”

You haven’t a clue. Your claims, and near paranoia affect, are such that one might wonder what you’ve been smoking. It is impossible to get the plant much over 25%, for much the same reasons as you can’t get an apple tree to make a basketball sized apple. A refined product called shatter exists with is 60%. Hard to get and very few people want it. I’ve used MJ since the 1980s, and still some today. I know how it has typically changed – about twice as strong now, and I simply use half as much.

Anyhow, what is your point? It has increased in strength so……..?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

As I don’t know any dope smokers or druggies I cannot comment.. If people want or need such self destruction then I’m pleased to see them off into the deal box and the bone garden or behind the fire curtain..and we are well rid of them, but it and that should be their freedom of choice

Kevin L
Kevin L
1 year ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Physiologically and medically not possible. You have something else causing your problem(s).
Post even one published medical paper to prove your statement. And I stress ‘medical’ (not some bought-and-paid-for “study”).

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Remember professor David nutt!?

Nutt had criticised politicians for “distorting” and “devaluing” the research evidence in the debate over illicit drugs
Source:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/politics/2009/oct/30/drugs-adviser-david-nutt-sacked

Also just remembered this, sorry unrelated to your original point but relevant to the article and contradicts the idea the red light district is awful, was broadcast a long time ago, the women’s institutes findings on brothels after touring Amsterdam and other places:

The pair went on the tour, which was filmed for a Channel 4 documentary, as part of a campaign started after the murder of five sex workers in Ipswich in 2006. Steve Wright, of Ipswich, is now serving life in prison.

Mrs Johnson proposed to her local WI the organisation lobby for brothels to be legalised. She was greeted with gasps but argues it is in the tradition of WI campaigns…. Source:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.standard.co.uk/hp/front/tonight-s-w-i-lecture-brothels-of-the-world-6880306.html%3famp

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

If as many people smoked cannabis as drank alcohol (and as heavily if you could calculate a like for like) I’d wager you’d find it causes just as many if not more problems for society at large as alcohol does.
While the deaths and fighting may be lower, the surge in mental health and respiratory illnesses would more than compensate.
Now personally I think it would be easier to legalise it, banning it has never stopped people partaking and it’s a source of revenue for unlawful people, but this false equivalence with alcohol as a justification I find tiresome

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

November 2010
Alcohol is more harmful than heroin or crack when the overall dangers to the individual and society are considered, according to a study in the Lancet.

The report is co-authored by Professor David Nutt, the former government chief drugs adviser who was sacked in 2009.

It ranked 20 drugs on 16 measures of harm to users and to wider society.

Heroin, crack and crystal meth were deemed worst for individuals, with alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine worst for society, and alcohol worst overall.

The study by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs also said tobacco and cocaine were judged to be equally harmful, while ecstasy and LSD were among the least damaging.

Source:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/uk-11660210.amp

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Oh come off it, if you seriously believe that alcohol is more dangerous than skag or crack then I’ll find it hard to have a serious conversation with you.
If there were as many heroin users as there is drinkers society would fall apart at the seams

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

LOL yeah I really don’t want to make the argument for banning alcohol, it was more about setting policy based on science though I was using to support the argument that cannabis is low harm, based on real science.

I’ll be honest without pulling up the lancet paper I couldn’t get into it too much, did you take a look at the chart? Just interesting to compare cannabis to others, I’m really not making a case for crack or heroin America has enormous opiate issues atm. But the study was done for the government to advise them on drug classification policy:

The findings run contrary to the government’s long-established drug classification system, but the paper’s authors argue that their system – based on the consensus of experts – provides an accurate assessment of harm for policy makers.

“Our findings lend support to previous work in the UK and the Netherlands, confirming that the present drug classification systems have little relation to the evidence of harm,” the paper says

So heroin and crack are still charted right at the top 3. It was all to with trying to base drug policy on actual science, the government didn’t like the science and they sacked the poor guy. He’s done a fair bit about it if you search him, he is a real professor, I think he seems pretty genuine but that’s just my humble opinion.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Sorry Billy – I like and appreciate your comments in particular- but you are very wrong on this. I am both ‘booze and MJ positive’ …just can’t abide the demonisation of either. Pointing out the blinding hypocrisy between accepting alcohol and freaking out about MJ is one way I react. BTW if you ate, or smoked MJ pure there would be no respiratory problems – It’s mixing with tobacco thats bad that way. Beyond a shadow of a doubt booze is more harmful – a figure of 100 x so often gets bandied about – rough guesstimate for sure, but about right.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I agree, I’d have both legal as it doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve never enjoyed the weed really, always preferred the party drugs in my youth.
My opinion is based on nothing but my own observations, but all the boys I know who smoke it regularly are definitely slower than the drinkers. It definitely affects the brain more than alcohol in my opinion, although alcohol destroys the liver so it’s no better or worse