Drug Policy

You Can't Have Your Pot and Smoke It Too

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In the U.S., smoking bans that apply to just about every other workplace commonly exempt tobacconists, on the theory that the consumption of tobacco products is the raison de'tre of such businesses, many of which provide lounge areas where customers can enjoy their purchases. In the Netherlands, by contrast, a smoking ban that takes effect in July 2008 will apply to cannabis-selling coffee shops, where on-site consumption is an even bigger part of the business. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende explains:

Coffee shops will be treated in the same manner as other catering businesses. They will be smoke-free. It would have been wrong to move towards a smoke-free catering industry and then make an exception for coffee shops. People would not have understood that.

Will people who come to Amsterdam precisely to smoke really good pot in bohemian cafes understand it when they're told this tourist attraction is now illegal? Fortunately, there's a loophole: Coffee shop customers will be permitted to smoke in partitioned areas that employees do not have to enter. Depending on the ventilation requirements, such segregation could require a substantial investment. Presumably customers will still be allowed to eat cannabis-containing baked goods wherever they like. But what about customers who use vaporizers, which heat marijuana to release cannabinoids without burning it and therefore do not generate the combustion products associated with smoking?

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  1. Why would you want to ventilate the partitioned smoking area?

    (I can just imagine the kids hanging around that ventilation fan)

  2. It would have been wrong to move towards a smoke-free catering industry

    If the PM had just stopped right there . . .

    and then make an exception for coffee shops. People would not have understood that.

    Yes, the little people. Too stupid to understand the difference between a smokeshop and a deli. Thank God they have towering intellects such as Prime Minister Balkenende to lead them by the hand through their lives.

  3. Coffee shop customers will be permitted to smoke in partitioned areas that employees do not have to enter.

    Employees? That chose to work in a FUCKING POT CAFE. Can they sign a fucking waiver or something?

    jesus-potatoes with mayonnaise and sesame sauce, “customers will be permitted”… this rolls of the tounge so easy, yet is so fucking wrong. We pay people for goods, then we are told what (not) to do with it. Thanks! We’d all be happier if Gov “permitted” business and consumers to make up their own goddam minds. There are smokeshope where you can only consumer ‘upstairs’… if this is a consumer/employee protection, cant they choose to protect themselves?

  4. good god, I think RC Dean and I are probably 100% in accordance on something.

  5. I will not buy this tobacconist. It is scratched

  6. This result is a no-brainer. In America, the smoking ban movement has closed the window of opportunity to marijuana legalization.

    The banners have been successful at two things:

    1) convincing people that any smoke is imminently and permanently dangerous; and

    2) Public policy should be predicated upon the health of others, not the freedom of others.

    With those two, why on earth would the average American vote to legalize marijuana?

    It’s over.

  7. GILMORE,

    R.C. Dean is generally a pretty cool guy.

  8. Ha ha! It’s only a matter of time until the government tells us what to smoke, eat, say, read, and live!! Where is our freedom going?

  9. Kwoodk,

    I can’t stand bars with Country music playing, and I don’t think I should be forced to work in a place where I’m forced to listen to Country.

    We should ban all Country music from bars. It’s offensive and, well, unhealthy. I mean, look at the tooth decay with some of those people.

  10. P.S. Sorry I directed that toward you Kwoodk, that last statement was intended for everybody…

  11. “Pot will get you through times of no law better than laws will get you through times of no pot.”

    Further affiant sayeth not.

  12. We should ban all Country music from bars.

    You are seriously straining my commitment to my libertarian principals.

  13. Pretty soon there will be no drinking in bars and no sex in whorehouses.

    Hey, it’s for the children, which now includes every human being in the Netherlands. Coming to a country near you!

  14. Pretty soon there will be no drinking in bars…

    Didn’t they already try to stop that in Texas a few months ago?

  15. Pretty soon there will be no drinking in bars…

    No, alcohol will still be allowed, but the legal drinking age will be raised to 35.

  16. Actually, you will still be allowed to purchase the alcohol, but if you drink it you will be subject to fine or arrest.

  17. In the Netherlands, by contrast, a smoking ban that takes effect in July 2008 will apply to cannabis-selling coffee shops, where on-site consumption is an even bigger part of the business.

    Thank you, now we will return to our regularly scheduled war on drugs.

  18. I’ve been living in the Netherlands for a few years now, mostly in Amsterdam and now outside of Groningen. I can safely say that I do not fear for the Amsterdam coffee-shops, smoking law or no. One thing that must be understood about the Dutch is that they have a habit of passing laws which are then ritually ignored by the populace at large. Whilst Balkenende (“Harry Potter” as he is known locally) represents a much more conservative government than has been seen here in many years, the Dutch are a terribly practical people, and will not allow millions of tourist euros to be pissed away because of the moral pretentions of an unpopular government. Many tourists are not aware that the purchase of more than about ten grammes or so of weed is very much illegal in Holland, and yet the coffeeshops obviously buy theirs in greater quantities… There is the occasional “bust”, a small fine is paid, and life goes on.

    Beyond the recent rightward trend in local elections, there is a great deal of external pressure on the Dutch government to deal with the “problem” of an open drug culture. The Danes have also been cracking down on the more egregious instances in Copenhagen, for much the same reason. The French and German governments, inter alia, are terrified of the “Dutch Experiment”, but have been unable to use their leverage in the EU to force anything more than paper compromises. The Dutch are a stubborn people, thank the Sativa gods…

    D.

  19. the moral pretentions of an unpopular government.

    They’re a democracy, right? How’d this unpopular government get there? And no, I’m not being facetious.

  20. Not to worry, Gilmore. Even joe and I agree on something about once a week.

  21. “Not to worry, Gilmore. Even joe and I agree on something about once a week.”

    Sometimes, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn.

    CB

  22. There is misunderstanding in this report.

    Cannabis smoking is not banned indoors in Holland. That will still be permitted.

    However, unlike North America pot smokers who smoke cannabis without additives, 90% of Europeans mix tobacco with hashish in order to smoke it. (This has lead to tens of thousands of cannaphiles becoming inadvertently addicted to tobacco, which is hazardous).

    So now these smokers cannot mix tobacco into their cannabis. They will be required to smoke cannabis straight without tobacco or go into the special room for tobacco/cannabis smokers.

    All smoking bylaws around Canada and Europe involve tobacco smoke only. At our facility in Vancouver, smoking tobacco is strictly forbidden indoors but no law restricts the presence of cannabis smoke in our building. Federal prohibition makes possession of cannabis a crime but that is not enforced in Vancouver, Canada.

  23. Marc, are you sure the Dutch ban only applies to tobacco? I haven’t read the ban in its entirety, but my understanding is that it does not just apply to tobacco.

    Even if it does, that’s pretty much everyone in a coffee shop, spare the token american rolling his own…

  24. @Marc Scott Emery:

    This is soo funny!

    I was just going to tell the reasonoids my story of being thrown out of a Vancouver pot cafe for lightning up a cigarette (figured, the air is so blue anyways, we were doing our semi-touristy checking out of the city, being naive outsiders, when the guy at a table two meters away started jumping up and down and shouting, pointing at me: “This guy, this guy! He smokes a CIGARETTE!!! Waitress, do something about it!!!” 🙂 ) — when I started reading your posting, then looked at who posted it, then arrived at “our facility in Vancover” part… 🙂

    How are you legal troubles? Good luck, man! Seriously, you can set up whatever rules you like in your place, and no, it did not take any police force for me to learn that I was making others uncomfortable and move to the porch area… But still makes a good story to tell in less enlightened parts of the world! 🙂

    Paul

  25. They’re a democracy, right? How’d this unpopular government get there? And no, I’m not being facetious.

    Well, they obviously weren’t unpopular when they were elected. They campaign as moderates, and then when elected become rather less so. This should probably sound familiar to many people around the world, and so I find your disbelief somewhat odd. Don’t other places have governments that become unpopular over time?

    D.

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