Cannabis News Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  Euro 2000 Soccer Violence Could Vanish in a Puff
Posted by FoM on June 08, 2000 at 16:42:26 PT
Scripps Howard News Service 
Source: Post-Dispatch 

cannabis It has become of one the Netherlands' most famous products, and if those who advocate its virtues get their way, then Euro 2000 could be the most peaceful, laid-back soccer tournament in sports history.

Representatives of the owners of Amsterdam's coffee shops -- where marijuana is openly sold and smoked -- have been locked in negotiations with city officials ever since they became concerned that they'd be forced to close, along with hundreds of bars in the city, during Euro 2000 because of possible soccer hooliganism.

Meetings have taken place with the Dutch justice department, local police officials and the local commission which regulates the coffee shops and issues licenses for the selling and smoking of marijuana.

During the negotiations, representatives of marijuana growers and sellers have told city officials that everyone would be better off if the coffee shops remain open and as many soccer fans as possible visit them.

``Fortunately, we have made them see sense,'' said Roland Dam, founder of Amsterdam's Cannabis College, which provides information on the industrial, medicinal and recreational uses of marijuana.

``There is always less trouble when cannabis is involved. I mean, have you ever heard of anyone smoking a joint and then starting a riot? Keeping the coffee shops open is good news for the city and the tournament as a whole.''

Under Dutch law, owners of coffee shops or those involved in marijuana manufacture are not allowed to directly encourage its usage but have been allowed to point to the wider benefits it could bring to Euro 2000.

Officially, marijuana is not legal in the Netherlands but is decriminalized, with authorities turning a blind eye to its use. Millions of people visit the city each year, which has become famous for offering one of the widest selections of marijuana in the world that can be smoked without fear of arrest.

``We are not saying that fans should come and smoke,'' emphasized Dam. ``But we are saying that smoking a joint is likely to contribute towards a peaceful tournament. People will be very relaxed, they will be more objective about the games and they will also become a bit more tolerant if their team loses.''

There are around 230 coffee shops in Amsterdam and the average cost of a bag of cannabis is around $23 for a five-gram bag. Soccer fans have been warned they will not be allowed to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana on the street, and that while bars will remain open downtown, they will be closed around the soccer grounds.

Among the handful of customers at the Dutch Flowers coffee shop Thursday there was relief that the coffee shops would remain open but dread at the arrival of thousands of soccer fans.

``I'm hoping there's not going to be a lot of violence,'' said Paul, an Australian backpacker traveling around Europe. ``But which teams are playing and when does it begin?'' he asked through a puff of smoke.

``Who cares who wins so long as it's Holland?'' said Gary, a local resident. ``It should be fun. I hope the fans have a good smoke and just love each other.''

Posted: June 8, 2000
For more Guardian news go to:
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service

Europe Through The Back Door

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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on June 09, 2000 at 10:33:19 PT:

The best kind (smile) of crowd control.
Given the almost legendary propensity for violence that many European soccer fans have, this would be a welcome way of reduce the likelihood of any unnecessary tragedies. But it begs the question: why does cannabis get the nod, and alcohol doesn't?

Obviously, because so many of such near- and actual riots are literally fueled by ethanol. While I was in Amsterdam in '96, the only time I ever saw an incident in the vicinity of a cannabis 'coffeeshop' that needed police attention... was a fight between two drunks. The cannabis smokers just shook their heads sadly and went back to their pipes and their friendly conversations

(I gained some valuable free lessons in colloquial Dutch, German, Spanish and French from such a such a wonderfully open and congenial atmosphere. And they just couldn't believe my explanations about how cannabis remained illegal - and what could happen to an average citizen if he were caught with it. When I think about what we *could* have here were it not for the braying prohibitionist jackasses, I don't know whether to cry or scream!)

This will all bear some serious scrutiny: you can bet the antis are paying as much or more attention to this as we are. Because if things go well, and the level of violence drops, Barry and his bully-boys and gals will have to jump through some serious hoops spin-wise to explain this away. As usual, this should prove real interesting.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #3 posted by kingbaritone on June 09, 2000 at 10:15:58 PT
Pass me that white widow joint so I can fight!!
I simply love Holland.


[ Post Comment ]
Comment #2 posted by fivepounder on June 09, 2000 at 09:30:39 PT
our laws
Not only perverse but hypocriical.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #1 posted by CD1 on June 09, 2000 at 07:23:21 PT
But isn't marijuana the drug that causes violent crimes in America? Isn't that what General McCaffrey has been telling us? How can this be?

This just goes to show you just how perverse American drug laws are.

[ Post Comment ]

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