Sunday, June 29, 2008

Modernism of the Day

As reported in Friday's USAToday:
Starting next week, you'll still be able to legally smoke a joint in the famously relaxed coffee shops of Amsterdam — but for a cigarette, you'll have to step outside.

A tobacco ban that goes into effect Tuesday in the Netherlands has both tourists and shop owners, like, totally confused, man.

"It's crazy," says Jon Foster, 36, an American who owns the popular Grey Area coffee shop in the gentrified Jordaan area of central Amsterdam. "It seems totally illogical to have a business that specializes in smoking and you ban tobacco."

The new law prohibits smoking in bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs to protect people from secondhand tobacco smoke. It is similar to bans that have swept across Europe since Ireland made pubs smoke-free in 2004, as well as restrictions across the USA.

The contradiction here is that the ban extends to coffee shops in the Netherlands that are renowned since 1976 for letting people buy and smoke marijuana or hashish without being arrested.

Starting Tuesday, customers can still legally buy up to 5 grams of cannabis a day at a coffee shop and smoke it on the premises. But they cannot smoke a regular cigarette — or mix the pot with tobacco, as many Europeans prefer — without the risk of being cited by Dutch health inspectors.

"I will have to ask, 'What's in that joint?' " says Ludo Bossaert, 49, owner of the Paradox, another well-known shop. "What's the difference if there's a little bit of tobacco in there? It's going to make it pretty difficult to enforce."
(via Sigmund, Carl & Alfred)

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