Wooden shoes

Drug myths: busted!

As an international student, whenever I visit my home country I notice that people hold a few stereotypes about the Netherlands. If you also hear statements like: “All Dutch people smoke weed, right?”, or “Oh, it’s so nice that marijuana is legal there,” and you have to disappoint the ignorant ones every time, we’re on the same boat. It’s high time to reveal the truth about drug policy and bust all the drug-related myths.

 

Myth: Soft drugs are legal

Contrary to popular belief, weed was never legalized in the Netherlands. Formally, all drugs are forbidden. However, the government designed a tolerance policy which allows smoking cannabis under certain conditions. Having up to 5 g of weed is decriminalized, so not punishable, yet not officially legal. If you carry more than that you will get a fine, or even go to jail if your pockets are stuffed with more than 1 kg of this drug. You can also explain your friends back at home that you can’t have a little cannabis plant next to your window. The cultivation of marijuana, even for personal use, still remains a criminal offence.

Myth: The Dutch are stoners

Try to make a comment on how kind and relaxed Dutch people are, and you’ll get an eager response along the lines of: “Sure they are! Because of all the ganja they smoke!” It’s a myth. The official site of Holland informs that the number of users of various types of drugs in the Netherlands is no greater than in other countries.

Myth: Weed is a soft drug

Marijuana and hashish are considered relatively harmless when compared to hard drugs. Or are they? The Dutch government is aware that the concentration of THC can vary and high-potency weed can be very dangerous. Thus, marijuana with a THC concentration of 15% or higher was classified as a hard drug and, in consequence, the possession and use of it were made punishable.

Myth: The foreigners can’t buy marijuana

The introduction of ‘wietpas’, a card granting membership to a chosen coffee shop, in my closest surrounding sparked comments like “poor you, you can’t buy weed anymore!” That’s true, as of 1 May 2012 you can only buy marijuana when you are a ‘wietpas’ holder. But it doesn’t mean that only the Dutch can get it, and that international students are excluded from all the fun. The ‘wietpas’ was introduced to limit the invasion of Belgian, French and German tourists craving to smoke a joint next to a canal, and not to make an ultimate division between the Dutch and the foreigners. The only requirement for getting a card, besides being an adult, is being registered in the municipality. And international student usually meet this requirement.

Myth: Amsterdam will stay Amsterdam

Although the ‘Wietpas’ has so far been introduced in the provinces of Zeeland, North Brabant and Limburg, it doesn’t mean that Amsterdam will be saved. This law will apply everywhere in the country from 1 January 2013. So you can tell your sapient uncle that his lecture on how coffee shops are a foundation of Amsterdam tourism, and that there is no way they’re going to be closed for visitors, is rubbish. You can also tell him to hurry up with his visit, because he only has time until the end of this year.

Published: Univers no. 13, June 7, 2012

Column

Royalty Goes Down the Toilet

If you hadn’t been so drunk on Queen’s Day and able to watch the news, you would have seen the future crown of the country Prince Willem- Alexander performing a very peculiar ritual. He spent the birthday of his royal Grandmother by taking part in competition in throwing toilet seats. And, horror of horrors, he won.

Sadly, this seems to be the current state of European royalty. If that’s the case, what is left for millions of hopeful teenage girls longing for the prince charming? Having a Prince William poster above their beds is out of the question (sorry, ladies, he’s taken), so the only option left is to have one with the Dutch prince photographed in the most dramatic moment of his famous toilet swing. His eyes focused on the target, his muscles flexed, his wet lips slightly open…

Perhaps toilet seats will prove to be more than just a great source of entertainment, and will replace some royal insignia. Who needs an expensive throne, when the toilet seat is much more comfortable to sit on? With some small adjustments it can even serve as a means of transportation for the monarch, a much safer one than a galloping, wild horse.

So it seems that they only remnants of the fairy tale world we can watch in “Shrek” movie. It gives me hope, as it probably does to those millions of desperate wanna-be -princesses. There at least an ogre becomes a prince, and in reality a prince seems to turn into a toilet-throwing ogre. And I know they say that a lucky girl should wholeheartedly support her royal husband’s career choices.  But if the prince is concerned more with the sanitary issues of his kingdom instead of practicing his chivalry skills, I’d rather stay with the dragon.

Published: Univers no 13, June 7, 2012