Amsterdam’s Cannabis Cup a tourist draw
And to think, Americans don’t want this source of tax revenue!
Published: November 23, 2011
Highest greetings from the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, where I'm enjoying the heady ambience of this society where they just don't care if you want to get high and where a couple thousand American youths are staggering around this week flashing their judge's badges and sampling the wares of the city's 250 coffee shops.
About 10 percent of Amsterdam's coffee shops pony up the entrance fees required to be showcased by High Times in its growing and consuming competition and thus gain the patronage of the American weed tourists during the week of the cup — and indeed all year round. The winning coffee shops get the business when the drug tourists come to town, the winning strains get purchased over the counter, and the winning seeds are prized by the international growing community.
Cannabis is a booming business in the Netherlands, and the High Times Cannabis Cup is its annual trade fair and exposition. But it's a world of good, clean fun too — after all, we're dealing with marijuana here! — and the businesspeople derive a lot more pleasure from their commercial activity than, say, their fellow merchants who are selling Buicks and Chevrolets.
Until fairly recently, the cannabis business has been allowed to grow and prosper, although the orthodox Christian convictions of the Queen and the governing class have conspired to keep marijuana from being declared fully "legal." Instead cannabis exists in what they call a "gray area" where it is perfectly OK for the consumer to possess and smoke weed and hashish in reasonable amounts and for the retailer to sell amounts of as much as 5 grams per customer over the counter in the coffee shops.
But it's strictly illegal to grow marijuana for commercial consumption, to deliver the weed to commercial outlets for profit, or to possess more than 500 grams at one time — the legal limit allowed for coffee shops to have on their premises. The individual smoker may grow as many as five plants at home for personal consumption, but commercial growing is strictly verboten.
As in America and throughout the world, the legal justifications for such proscription are just so much mumbo-jumbo in service of a social order wherein pleasurable bodily sensations and intense mental stimulation are ruled immoral and out of bounds even to the detriment of their principal god, Mammon.
They could be making a whole lot more money from cannabis commerce, but fear of God or burning eternally in hell seems to put a damper on that particular avenue of exploitation, even where turning widows and children out of their homes, making millions of honest toilers "redundant" and without jobs, bombing innocent civilians or depriving whole segments of the population of their inalienable human rights are deemed acceptable.
With respect to the United States, the dollar figures are staggering to contemplate. Of course it all happens off the charts, without direct social benefit to the governmental bodies that could use the money to help underwrite public services. Like their Dutch counterparts, a significant proportion of Americans are engaged in cannabis consumption and the concomitant growing, distribution and sales involved with servicing their smoking needs.
It never ceases to amaze me that in a society in which everything else — intelligence, beauty, creativity, quality of daily life — has been sacrificed to Mammon, the crusading forces draw the line at the pursuit of happiness through consciousness expansion.
You can buy (or manufacture and sell) all the liquor you want, all the pills of whatever potency, all the pornography, all the instruments of bondage and torture, all the weapons of destruction, all the idiotic mammoth automobiles, all the ugliest movies and recordings and television programs imaginable, but you have to risk going to prison or into treatment if you want to get high on a harmless little weed or some other mind-altering product of organic origin.
And instead of legalizing drugs, regulating and taxing their manufacture and sale, and utilizing the revenues in a socially useful manner, the modern crusaders have elected to exact their tribute through the machinery of the War on Drugs, financing dizzying levels of law enforcement employment, the proliferation of courts and their attendant personnel, jail and prison construction and the ever-increasing number of persons required to operate them.
Dear readers, let's step forward and bring this godawful state of affairs to a merciful end. Free the Weed. Let it grow.
Bits & pieces: Ben Horner of Michigan Medical Marijuana Report magazine announces that the Vote Green Initiative Project (VGIP) will host a conference in Ann Arbor on Jan. 27-29, with medical marijuana speakers, vendors, doctor certifications, grow classes and more. In the meantime, VGIP is circulating the Recall Bill Schuette petition via its website at mmmrmag.com/elections.
Michigan legalization activist Tim Beck had some fun recently with U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra at a meeting of the Grosse Pointe Eastside Republican Club when he posed the question to the candidate: "Would you be willing to support Congress rescheduling marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act from Schedule 1 to a different level?"
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