smoke that shit

It’s no secret that the people of Berkeley — or as we like to call our adoptive city, “Luttel Amsterdam” (it’s Dutch for “little” so no corrections, English majors!) — love to partake in occasional doses of Cannabis sativa — or as the cool kids like to call it nowadays, “Marijuana.” Take too many strolls down Telegraph Avenue or Downtown Berkeley and we’re almost positive you’ve got no chance of passing your next drug test. And, given that officials seem completely nonchalant about it, why don’t we just finally make like a Dutch tree and smoke leaves. Get it? … No? … Was it that bad? … Okay, we apologize for that.

Robert MacCoun, professor of law and policy at UC Berkeley, has carried out a new study about the regulation of marijuana in the Netherlands and whether the United States would benefit from a similar system.

According to the Huffington Post, coffee shops in the Netherlands are allowed to sell limited amounts of marijuana to adults over the age of 18. Although the Dutch law still declares marijuana an illegal substance, it also prohibits officials from taking action against the coffee shop vendors or customers.

MacCoun explains that the Dutch system is a “slightly ambiguous” form of legalization that allows for lots of regulation, high prices and zero advertising at coffee shops (the latter may be impossible to enforce in U.S. because of free speech rights).

As for those anti-marijuana folks who claim that this semi-legalization of marijuana would dramatically increase the number of smokers and its “gateway effect,” professor MacCoun calls it shenanigans. While there was a slight increase in marijuana smoking since the coffee shops opened in the 70’s, MacCoun claims that the separation of marijuana into the coffee shops removes it — and its consumers –from the streets where dealers sell stronger drugs.

A large incentive for establishing such shops in the U.S. is tourism. Have you ever thought about taking your vacation in Shreveport, Louisiana? Not that appealing, right? Now, what if Shreveport had marijuana coffee shops? Looking a little more appealing, eh? According to professor MacCoun, a quarter of the 4-5 million tourists who come to Amsterdam visit a coffee shop with 10 percent of them citing that as a reason why they came.

Still, he insists that full-legalization wouldn’t be as beneficial for the country. For some odd reason, he doesn’t think that handing the sale of marijuana over to a bunch of greedy capitalists — who would “increase promotion and dramatically decrease price” — would be good for public health.

Well, we guess that kind of ruins many of our resident’s dream of seeing marijuana in the bulk-section of Berkeley Bowl.

Image Source: Orin Zebest under Creative Commons
Cannabis Coffee Shops: Should America Adopt Dutch Marijuana Regulations [Huffington Post]

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