Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jan 2007
Source: View Magazine (Hamilton, CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 View Magazine
Author: George Kosinski


If Mr. Shapiro thinks that Amsterdam is a boring city, he has much 
more serious problems than whether he does or doesn't smoke pot, 
which he now seems to regard as the most significant aspect of his 
life. I would further suggest that the (previously unknown) myth that 
the wonderful city of Amsterdam is a "salacious hellhole" is one that 
Mr. Shapiro created himself.

While his hostile attitude toward marijuana is a typical response for 
former users who decide that they must "quit," he fails to explain 
why he should care why his North American friends think he moved to 
Amsterdam. His letter does, however, point out a critical effect of 
North America's war on marijuana.

Aside from the occasional coffeeshop, there is no visible marijuana 
culture in Holland. Nobody talks about it and the media rarely 
discuss it. A Dutch teenager may not even become aware of the 
existence of marijuana unless he happens to wander into a coffeeshop 
that serves this product.

The high profile marijuana enjoys in North America, such that even 
kindergarten children seem to be aware of it, seems to be inversely 
proportional to the efforts of the authorities to suppress it. As Mr. 
Shapiro pointed out, marijuana use in Holland is no greater, per 
capita, than in countries where it is violently suppressed. So the 
only thing we accomplish with our futile war on marijuana, other than 
triggering the violence surrounding its illegal distribution and 
ensuring lack of dosage and quality control for users, is to ensure 
that everyone in our society is aware of it from an early age. 
Tangentially, Mr. Shapiro's letter may serve as a cautionary tale. 
You can move to Europe, but you can't move away from yourself.

George Kosinski

Gibsons, BC
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