I Swear, Officer, It's Only Marijuana!


A Dutch ban on smoking in businesses open to the public takes effect on July 1, and owners of marijuana-selling "coffee shops" are worried. They're not worried because the ban will prevent their customers from smoking pot. Although the combustion products of any dried weed include toxins and carcinogens, cannabis is exempt from the law, which is ostensibly aimed at protecting employees. It's hard to see what purpose this disparate treatment serves, aside from horrifying American conservatives with the prospect of a topsy-turvy world in which you can smoke pot but not tobacco. But since European pot smokers often mix tobacco into their joints, The Independent reports, coffee shop operators are afraid the smoking ban will cut into their business:

"The new rule is nonsense," said Willem Panders, of the Dutch tobacco traders' union. "It will be almost impossible to enforce because how are you going to check if someone is smoking cannabis mixed with tobacco, or pure cannabis?"…

Marc Jacobsen, of BCD, a national association of coffee-shop owners which has been urging the government to give them special status, told the online version of Der Spiegel: "In a cafe you come to drink something. In a restaurant you come to eat. But when you come to a coffee shop you come to smoke, so smoking has to be allowed in a coffee shop."…

Sandy Lambrecht, the manager of the Bulldog coffee shop on the Leidseplein in the heart of Amsterdam, said: "The new rules are absurd. You come to a coffee shop to smoke, after all—it's ridiculous that we have to comply. The new rules are meant to protect employees like me, but the point is that we chose to work here."

Paul Wilhelm, the owner of De Tweede Kamer, one of Amsterdam's most famous coffee shops, founded in 1985, argued: "If the boys are old enough to be sent to Afghanistan, then you can't tell me that people want to protect them from smoke in the workplace. They're old enough to decide on their own. They can vote, they can go to war—but now they won't even be allowed to make this decision?"

These are not arguments for exempting coffee shops from the smoking ban; these are arguments for repealing the smoking ban.

[via the Drug War Chronicle]