By Chris Roach
The Daily Mail released an interesting article on the 10th of March, which seems to have gone completely under the radar receiving only eight comments on it. The headline read ‘Maastricht locals complain of rise in street dealers following ‘pot tourism’ crackdown’.
As many of you will have heard in the past, The Netherlands has tried to introduce a weed pass to stop so called pot tourism coming to the country. While it has not been brought into affect in Amsterdam and doesn’t look likely to, it has been brought in to the southern region of the country. Due to this these cities are starting to see a rise of drug dealers come back into the cities.
We need to have a licensed market to get rid of the dealers; it’s as simple as that. Drug dealers bring misery to communities by ripping off customers on a regular basis. An ounce of weed costs virtually nothing to grow yourself, however if you are buying off a dealer, you would be lucky to get a 2-gram bag for twenty pounds. It’s one of the major downfalls of prohibition; it’s the concept of supply and demand. When something is legal the supply will tend to outweigh the demand and therefore create competition in a free and regulated market; thus providing the consumer with a cheaper price. But when something is illegal, the demand for the product outweighs the supply of it and the price can be chosen at whatever the dealer wants to set it out. I have a friend in California who pays $200 for an ounce; he laughed at me when I said I was paying $400 (£230).
The next problem is the fact that now dealers are able to go after children as customers. From my first trip to Amsterdam when I was 18, I was asked to provide I.D in every single coffee shop I went into. The rate of use of cannabis by under 18’s in the Netherlands is among the lowest in Europe, so there must be some correlation between decriminalisation and teen use.
Carol Berghmans lives close to the River Maas said ‘Now the drug runners are trying to sell on the street to anyone, they are bothering everybody.’ Maastricht is a small little border town; so many people would actually not spend time there, but just get what they needed before going back to their home country. Anyone who has driven through Europe will realise the lack of border control makes things like this ridiculously easy to do. But this won’t do anything to stop the flow; these pot tourists could just drive the extra two hours to Amsterdam and get what they need.
The weed pass as well is an interesting topic: it is up to local municipalities to enforce them meaning that cities in the Netherlands can choose whether they want coffeeshops in their cities or not. We could have the same plan put into place but our government is too conservative in their ideas about what would happen. The idea arose two years ago of opening a coffeeshop in Brighton; it would be the perfect place for the government to experiment on what would happen. Do you think there would be public outcry? Would there be a breakdown in society? Of course not because we as adults should get to choose what we allow into our bodies.
There are actually loads of coffeeshops in the United Kingdom, its just getting round the problem of cannabis being illegal. These coffeeshops run under the nose of the law, but are still very popular among those that know about them. The government could easily be making 20% taxes off each sale, but instead they continue to arrest users and brand them as criminals. The Dutch Experience in Stockport was one of the originals but was eventually raided.
David Cameron must take note. You have almost half the states in the US legal for medical use or recreational use with more set to follow later this year. The majority of EU countries have taken away criminal sanctions for handling small personal amounts including Germany, Spain and Portugal. Its not hard to see that a change is happening and for everyone reading you should be very hopeful for the future as this law cannot be upheld. We have Members of Parliament supporting our cause from Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, to Liberal Democrat Norman Baker.
The war on drugs is essentially unwinnable, especially the war on cannabis. Being a campaigner for this fight has made me question what the government can actually do to stop cannabis as a whole and the only conclusion I could come to was that they would have to destroy every strain of the plant and wipe its genetics off the face of the planet. It’s extreme but that’s the only way they could get rid of it in the UK. We have a huge cannabis culture in the UK and it is something we should be proud of.