The Dutch government is trying to pass a bill to prohibit foreigners from buying marijuana in Amsterdam’s famed coffee shops. The reason cited is rather lame: an apparent increase in drug related crimes in Holland’s southern cities. Dutch nationals and legal resident would still be permitted to buy marijuana but foreigners would be barred from such purchases! Hmmm…strangely inconsistant bill! One wonders if Holland is bending to foreign pressure.
Could the liberal, spirit of freedom that is Amsterdam be waning? Is the world at large getting more conservative? It appears so, judging from the sudden spike in conservative leaders worldwide, such as Steven Harper and David Cameron not to mention religious conservative candidates such as Mitt Romney.
So what accounts for this increase in conservatism? Worldwide economic hardship, no doubt. When money is available, there tends to be more of a laissez-faire attitude; however, when governments overspend; when welfare subsidies seriously tax government financial resources; whole nations are forced to implement draconian austerity measures. When welfare and retirement funds dry up, and when illegal immigrants take jobs that were once completely overlooked by the local citizenry, laissez-faire policies and lax immigration laws tend to be transmuted to more rigid laws and general xenophobia.
It’s human nature, apparently, to pull tight the reins of “immorality,” to curb the sexual and the sensual and to minimize “vice” when economic times are hard. One has only to compare the Great Depression to the Roaring Twenties for example. Yes, when times get hard, “liberalism” is stymied, skirt length increases, and a repressive atmosphere dampens a free-wheeling spirit.
In the case of marijuana, it’s remarkable that a drug which is arguably less harmful than tobacco and alcohol and certainly less addictive should be illegal in most every country in the world! Why? No doubt, in part, because it is considered a “gateway” drug. What a splendid example of a logical fallacy: of course, most heroin users will have tried marijuana first, but the vast majority of marijuana consumers don’t “graduate” to heroin.
It appears that Holland’s proposed legislation is an ill-conceived, knee-jerk reaction, one which coincides with the apparent upswing of worldwide conservatism. I wonder what its enactment will cost in terms of lost tourist revenue? By joining the ranks of the cannabinol-phobes, the Dutch government is poised to take away that unique sense of freedom that is Holland, and with that, Amsterdam won’t be quite the same.