Amsterdam and Holland in general used to be the only place for marijuana freedom in the entire world.
Marijuana lovers from across the planet flocked by the millions to Holland to legally purchase and consume cannabis in public, just like alcohol is.
There were also “smart shops” selling MDMA analogs, psilocybin mushrooms, and other natural and chemical drugs that enhanced performance and had therapeutic value. Those have now been mostly outlawed.
Holland was known for sexual freedom, with Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District and similar districts in other Dutch cities offering a regulated sex worker marketplace.
Unfortunately, and in many ways similar to what’s happening in the United States, the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York City and the murder in Holland of a Dutch right-wing politician prompted Dutch voters to support a theocratic political party, Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) in the 2002 elections.
CDA comes out of Catholic theocratic culture war ideology, and quickly used its increased political power to slash the Dutch cannabis and sex industries.
Ridiculous regulations and harassment drove hundreds of cannabis shops out of business, especially in Amsterdam.
Sex workers were more-strictly regulated and Catholics in government used public funding to spread propagandistic lies against cannabis and legalized prostitution.
Cannabis businesspeople in The Netherlands repeatedly pointed out that the country was earning an estimated $2-3 billion per year from cannabis tourism, and that CDA was harming the country’s financial success.
They also noted that Dutch citizens who use legal marijuana were seeing cannabis shops shut down and prices increase.
At the same time as the Catholic nuts were waging war against marijuana in-country, marijuana legalization in North America was accelerating.
California voters passed America’s first serious personal medical marijuana growing legalization in 1996 by approving Proposition 215.
Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Michigan and other states followed California’s lead. Pretty soon, there were legal marijuana dispensaries in many American states.
Marijuana lovers who used to have to cross an ocean to Europe to enjoy marijuana freedom can now stay home and enjoy legal marijuana.
The Dutch have been known for centuries as very savvy businesspeople, so it’s puzzling why they’d voluntarily destroy the multi-billion dollar per year legal marijuana revenue stream.
But you’d be assuming that the CDA and other Dutch political parties have rational people who understand what wise public policy is.
Although CDA now markets itself as a “centrist” political party, Catholic-Calvinist political hatred of marijuana and sex takes precedence over Holland’s traditional commitment to personal freedom.
That’s why it’s really no surprise that Amsterdam is now banning people from smoking marijuana in public, beginning in May, 2023.
Government officials are also banning or limiting tourist buses, restaurants, cannabis shops, and sex workers.
They claim their goal is to reduce the “perils” that mass tourism creates for Amsterdam’s residents.
According to the government, tourists, sex workers and marijuana users have ruined the city for its residents.
As a cannabis journalist who lived in The Netherlands off and on for many years, I can directly counter the government’s anti-marijuana lies.
I recall my first journalistic visit to Holland; my editors wanted me to interview police officers about marijuana legalization.
In America at the time, police officers were more eager to bust marijuana users and growers than they were to stop rape, murder, and other actual crimes.
So I was pleasantly surprised when Dutch police officers, every single one of them, explained that marijuana tourists, Dutch marijuana users, and Dutch marijuana shops were not in any way a source of crime or trouble.
“I’ve been a police officer for 11 years,” an Amsterdam cop told me. “Not once in all that time have we ever been called to a cannabis shop to deal with a fight, sexual assault, medical emergency, or even a theft.”
The real problem, the officer and other officers explained, is alcohol and alcohol consumers.
“They are very bad for Holland, especially the British who come here to drink when one of their teams is playing Ajax [Dutch soccer club] or for bachelor parties. We constantly attend to alcohol bars and in the streets around them to deal with assaults, attempted rapes, brawling, thieving, medical emergencies caused by alcohol overdose. It is not the cannabis that causes problems, it’s the alcohol,” the officer said.
The officers’ statements affirmed what I saw with my own eyes. Visiting hundreds of cannabis shops across The Netherlands, I encountered peaceful vibes, trance music, hookahs, people from all over the world happily getting high.
But in Amsterdam on weekends and holidays, especially when crazed British tourists cross the channel to Holland and start boozing at dawn and continue all day and night, I saw the carnage that alcohol and alcohol culture causes.
I also note that like most cities, and even though Holland is the most bicycle-friendly and mass transit-equipped country I’ve lived in, Amsterdam has noise, traffic jams, safety risks, and pollution due to over-reliance on motor vehicles.
You could briefly wonder why Dutch officials haven’t cracked down on alcohol, soccer hooliganism, motorized vehicles, and tourists who cause trouble not just because they’re drunk, but because they’re assholes.
But all you have to do is look at the Catholic/theocratic origins of the CDA and another influential Dutch political party, the VVD. They have bizarre beliefs that sabotage their ability to govern intelligently when it comes to a harmless activity like cannabis use.
Similar to how Catholic members of the United States Supreme Court force their misogynistic religious views on all American women by taking away women’s body autonomy, Dutch officials are working against freedoms they don’t think are “moral.”
It’s particularly ironic that Amsterdam is governed by local, allegedly centrist-Green politicians, and similarly self-described progressive politicians are also in national government. Unlike CDA and VVD, these “Left” people supposedly aren’t brainwashed by sky daddy religious mythology.
You’d think they’d have the brains to understand that closing cannabis shops and discouraging cannabis tourism will not improve Dutch quality of life.
But you’d be wrong.
The Dutch government isn’t banning public cigarette smoking or alcohol bars, but they’re attacking marijuana users. So stupid.
Even though I love Holland and will go back there to enjoy the tulips, trance events, beaches, museums, bicycling and many other lovely things, I no longer have to go there for marijuana or marijuana seeds. I can stay home.
And so can millions of other marijuana lovers. Hey there Dutch politicians, how are you going to replace the billions of Euros you lose by attacking Dutch marijuana freedom?