Friday, April 25, 2014
Dear Seattle, "Don't End Up Like Us." Love, Amsterdam
The national story begins like this:
SEATTLE—Cannabis activists here are, at this very moment, eagerly awaiting the full implementation of Initiative 502, which in late 2012 legalized recreational marijuana in the state of Washington. By early summer, 21 retail marijuana stores will open inside this picturesque city, and entrepreneurs with dollars signs in their eyes are already hatching plans to strike it rich with weed. They see Seattle as a wide-open frontier, an Amsterdam on the Puget Sound.
Who knew Seattle would become the "Amsterdam on the Puget Sound?"
I can think of several reasons why Amsterdam would "love" Seattle, but what is their warning?
Amsterdam probably also loves Colorado, the other state where marijuana is legalized. And where 13 year old children were found joining in the cannabis celebration this week and 4th grade kids were caught selling pot on the playground.
The pot people of Amsterdam say, "Decades of permissive policies toward marijuana use is gradually, and rather acutely being eroded."
The pot industry has apparently not delivered on its promises.
The government, they say, is "eroding their rights" by the laws they are now enacting.
So why is the government trying to reel in utopia?
In the good old days, they say, Amsterdam had nearly 400 "coffee shops," which translated means pot smoking shops---which are technically illegal.
Now there are only about half as many. What has changed? Has the demand for pot declined?
No, it's the government.
"Conservative government leaders and an evolution in the Dutch mentality toward health" is ruining the robust cannabis industry, they say.
They also say if the decades old, some what legalized pot business is further restricted and the "coffee shops" continue to be closed, it will mean "lost jobs and tourist dollars, and there will be more organized crime, more violence and more hard drugs."
Some of those same arguments were made in support of both legalized pot and gay marriage in Washington State---more revenue from more tourism. Big bucks.
Why would the government be trying to kill an industry that provides more revenue to the government and prevents crime and violence?
Clearly there are reasons for the government to oppose such a good deal.
Perhaps part of the "evolution" in thinking by the Dutch government regarding health is related to a study released a few days ago.
Northwestern University has found that even casual marijuana use has some not so casual effects on the brain. They have found causal marijuana use is linked to abnormalities.
Dr. Hans Breiter says, "The interaction of marijuana with the brain development could be a significant problem." Read the story.
But why would the government want to cut off the cannabis cash flow?
Many Washington officials who sort of supported the marijuana movement pointed out repeatedly how much revenue it would create for "schools." Perhaps they should set aside some of that cash for improved mental institutions in the state. After all, if pot money is educating the kids, shouldn't it also care for them after they have casually used it and messed up their brain?
But those who lead us have promised they will keep pot out of the hands of kids. They have "regulations."
So does Colorado, the other state to heed the call to cannabis. Yesterday, Fox News reported "Fourth graders have been found selling pot on their school ground" and they got the pot from their grandparents. The kids are also smoking and celebrating the new found freedom.
The pot people in Amsterdam who "love" Seattle and are excited that Seattle is following Amsterdam down the yellow brick path to nirvana, say the sky is the limit to how high the pot culture can go...if Seattle deals with certain problems.
The "Puget Sound High" will have a low ceiling, they say, "if certain quirks and oversights in the law are not addressed."
Well, technically all drugs are illegal in The Netherlands---but Amsterdam officials have "agreed to turn a blind eye"---it is officially called a "policy of tolerance" toward "coffee shops" that are close to schools, that have grown too big, rather than staying small as promised, are importing weed which is illegal, etc., etc.
We don't have any of that "blind eye" stuff going on in Washington, so everything should be just fine. Right?
In fact, Alison Holcomb, the ACLU lawyer who wrote Washington's ticket to utopia, a.k.a. Initiative-502, says, "Culturally there's still a lot of fear and stigma attached to it. People want it to look really locked down and boring. The stores are very bland and beige."
The pictures from last Sunday of the Hemp Fest in Seattle hardly looked "locked down and boring." Or "bland."
So they got the pot deal approved, but where can people go to smoke it? Legally? Will we be forced to adopt a "blind eye" policy to protect these new found freedoms and rights?
Mike Momany is a 62 year old man with a plan. He says not to worry about where to smoke.
He has organized the Washington State Cannabis Tourism Association.
He is organizing "weed-themed parties" and poker games. He is planning movie events featuring "stoner friendly" films. And he promises there is more to come.
Kush Tourism is already offering "behind the scenes pot tours" that cost from $150 to $1420.
Momany says, "The beauty of what I'm doing with the cannabis tourism...you have all these rules in I-502 that don't apply to me."
He has already dealt with some of the "quirks" in the law.
How long will it take for Washington State to begin to "erode" some of these "evolved" freedoms---that don't harm anyone? Two or three decades like Amsterdam?
Finally a personal thought.
If you look at the demographics of the vote, it is clear there was not statewide support for legalized marijuana. Like gay marriage, the matter won the vote because of the large numbers of far left progressive voters in Seattle and the immediate population crescent around the city. The rest of the state didn't really buy in to either matter.
As a kid growing up in the Yakima Valley, I often heard the discussion about the central and eastern part of the state becoming a different state, leaving Seattle and the coast to be Washington, with central and eastern Washington becoming "Lincoln." That generation is gone now and for the most part so is the discussion.
Now that I'm older and wiser... maybe they had a point. What if we redirected the drilling of Big Bertha from the Alaskan Way viaduct project---when the drill is repaired next year, and drilled around the Seattle city limits. After evacuating the few conservatives who live in the city, we could then break Seattle away and push it North into the Puget Sound, creating a new island adjacent to Vancouver Island.
It would be a new tourist destination called Cannabis Island of Canada. Mayor Ed Murray and his husband would rule the island.
And they would live happily ever after.
Have a great weekend.
Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.