While I forever identify with Planet of the Apes‘ monkey-loving, bare chested Taylor, I also realize the above quote may seem out of context. What can I say? I’m pissed off.
Readers of this blog are intelligent and informed, so I won’t bother going into a point-by-point dissection of drug policy and the myriad flaws within the legislation, but I will make a few bold statements. [ED: God help us.]
Back in April, Gaelle Caroff — a 17 year old French girl — leaped from a bridge or a building right here in Amsterdam and died. She was under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms (and possibly other substances) at the time. It is often (wrongly) assumed that drugs are legal over here in the Netherlands. Cannabis and psilocybin fungi are tolerated in small amounts. Considered soft-drugs, mushrooms are proffered in "smart" shops, while cannabis must be purchased and toked within "coffeeshops" — actual coffeeshops are simply called cafés. This system works, and is wonderful for those who believe psychoactive drugs can be beneficial when used moderately and responsibly. I, personally, was attracted to Amsterdam for its sane approach to psychedelics. It’s wonderful to feel free to pick up an eighth of Hawaiians once every couple months, or whenever I feel like it. Tripping isn’t always pleasant, but for those interested in self-improvement and comfortable with introspection, it can be far more effective than therapy. But again, the nature of the experience depends largely on the individual.
This, perhaps, is the biggest factor for debate: who should be allowed to use mind-altering drugs? The problem being that, while some people are mature and informed, others are complete morons.
Psilocybin mushrooms are now officially banned in the Netherlands, thanks to foolish tourists like Gaelle and a handful of others. That may sound cruel of me to say. While I’m always sad to hear of such pointless death, people should know the risks, particularly if they have preexisting psychological disorders, as was apparently the case with Gaelle. But what bothers me the most is the level of ignorance displayed by the legislators themselves. Because I’ve seen it all before in the US.
If I die in a car accident. . . let’s say I’m driving a Toyota, do we subsequently outlaw Toyotas? School-shootings: do we make guns illegal? Perhaps we should, but it won’t happen because legislators don’t actually represent their constituencies’ best interests. If American lawmakers really understood citizens they’d know that more than half the population will, at some point in their lives, consume illegal drugs — making them criminals in the eyes of the Law. So technically, the United States is an outlaw culture.
Governments have a terrible tendency towards treating their citizens as though they are babies in the crib. Of course, when I look around I see that a seeming majority are babies in cribs, waiting for Mommy to put on their bib while they giggle, burp and smile naively. That’s fine for some, but not all of us are as helpless.
My point is simple: legislators and politicians are not the ones who should be making decisions about chemicals or medicine. Leave that for the doctors, scientists and scholars. Of course, even the experts are ignored if and when they actually step up. There’s plenty more to say regarding the corruption, inconsistency, and downright stupidity surrounding current drug-policy, but I trust you’re already well aware of this.
Here in Amsterdam, this new bill will go into effect within the next couple of months. Yet again, my personal liberties have been forfeited by the idiocy of an influential minority. I know a few people who’ve died from drink. . . Odd that I can still buy booze anywhere. This legislation represents lazy thinking, pure and simple. Hey Holland, guess what? Just like in America, people will continue to buy the drugs you are trying to eliminate. But they’ll now resort to street acid and unlabeled ‘shrooms (a great thing over here was knowing which variety you were selecting). Tragedies will still occur (perhaps even more often), and crime will go up, since formerly simple capital transactions will now be black-market events. All you are doing is forcing respectable and responsible people into the dark-alleys. Don’t you understand human-nature? Thanks. Really. For keeping us safe.