October 1, 2015 at 8:18 pm #1579
Is nothing sacred? When will the persecution stop? Oregon weed markedly better than Holland weed in my humble opinion. And people are nicer as well.
-Holland’s New Marijuana Laws Are Changing Old Amsterdam-
The last time Derrick Bergman came to Amsterdam to buy cannabis, he did so behind a locked door with a long, thick curtain obscuring his activity from the canal-lined residential street outside, in the quiet Lastage neighborhood. The secretary of the Netherlands’s Union for the Abolition of Cannabis Prohibition, Bergman comes here to weekly gatherings of a two-month-old—and seriously clandestine—“cannabis social club” called the Tree of Life, because it’s the only place in town he can find one of his favorite strains: Super Silver Haze.
Since 1976, authorities across the Netherlands have chosen to openly ignore that cannabis use is illegal here, and they prosecute no one in possession of less than five grams of marijuana for personal use. The policy, called gedoogbeleid, is known as the “Dutch model,” and it’s why hundreds of “coffee shops” sprung up across Amsterdam and the Netherlands, luring marijuana connoisseurs from across the globe to one of the few places they could roll and smoke a joint without fear. But that’s no longer the case.
Cannabis with more than 15 percent of the THC that makes it intoxicating is now under consideration to be reclassified as one of the “hard drugs” that come with stiff penalties. The government has also forced coffee shops where marijuana is sold to choose between alcohol and pot, prompting many to choose the former. Amsterdam once played host to nearly 300 coffee shops, of more than 1,000 scattered across the country. There are now fewer than 200 in the city and only 617 nationwide. While it’s always been illegal to grow marijuana in the Netherlands, authorities passively allow coffee shops to sell weed, often pretending not to know where the shops’ cannabis comes from.
But no longer. New laws target even the smallest of marijuana growers in Holland. In the past, people could grow up to five plants without fear of retribution. In 2011, the government issued new police guidelines and declared anyone who grew with electric lights, prepared soil, “selected” seeds or ventilation would be considered “professional.” It’s a significant change, as professional growers risk major penalties, including eviction and blacklisting from the government-provided housing in which more than half of the country’s citizens reside.
The result: Coffee shops are increasingly buying buds from criminal organizations willing to absorb the risk of prosecution by growing large amounts of cannabis in shipping containers buried underground, with little regard for quality or mold abatement. “It’s amazing how bad the quality has become,” says Bergman. “And the price is up. It’s what we’ve all predicted.”
Now, activists like Bergman are trying to convince Holland to consider the American model—the legalization and regulation of all components of marijuana cultivation and sale. Citing Oregon’s law, which allows residents to grow as many as four plants, Bergman says: “I’m sort of jealous.”
That’s because America seems to be learning from Holland’s mistakes. Holland’s passive-aggressive policy doesn’t stop illicit activity or drug tourism or make anyone safer, say activists: It actually has the reverse effect. Quasi-legalization leaves too many entry points for criminals to line their own pockets from the drug trade. State by state, the U.S. is legalizing pot with initiatives that clearly spell out who is allowed to manufacture, distribute and consume it. That’s the key to a successful policy, and it’s one Dutch activists are now working to implement in their own country, before things swing too far the other way.October 8, 2015 at 7:42 am #1619
-Live review: Neil Young takes on Monsanto in sizzling three-hour set-
“We proudly brew Starbucks coffee,” a sign at the Chiles Center concession stand read on Wednesday night. Don’t tell Neil Young. The rocker, in the midst of a crusading “The Monsanto Years” tour, may not have had Morrissey-esque powers of problematic food removal at the Portland venue, but there was no mistaking the sound of his message.
The otherwise visually modest set was shaped by two bits of theater: a duo in farmers’ clothes, throwing out seeds before Young opened the set with a solo performance, and corporate villains in haz-mat suits spraying down the stage with pesticides—er, stage fog. The crowd booed them, and someone shouted “No more GMOs!” at the farmers.
“The Monsanto Years” takes aim at the controversial agriculture company with some extra ammo for Starbucks, alongside corporations “too big to fail/too rich for jail” and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Young’s devotion to these subjects and others—high-resolution audio, hybrid cars, defending farmers and so on—has seemed single-minded at moments in his public life, but he was a careful preacher on Wednesday, sparing the crowd a stump speech and weaving the new songs in among familiar favorites. He played “A Rock Star Bucks a Coffee Shop” after “Alabama,” and followed the anti-corporate “Big Box” with 1970’s scathing “Southern Man,” as if to say, I’m still fighting. I’ve always been fighting.
Wherever one stands on his issues, it’s a mark of his conviction that Young’s never tired of activism. On Wednesday, it didn’t seem that he tired at all, playing through hour after hour without a bathroom break. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band of 20-somethings play with such endurance, much less a man about to turn 70.
He did have a few youngsters with him: Promise of the Real, whose current incarnation includes Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah. Young and the elder Nelson are regulars together on the charity/protest concert circuit these days, but Young’s appreciation for his colleague goes way back: there’s a story in “Shakey,” the Young biography, about the musician chasing Nelson’s country sound, and borrowing his former bassist, during one of Young’s many sonic detours.
The outlaw influence emerged as Young eased onward from solo guitar, harmonica and piano songs—among them, “After the Gold Rush,” “Heart of Gold,” Comes a Time,” and “Old Man, which he paused after realizing, “I forgot to say hello.” The band joined him for suitably country-styled “Hold Back the Tears,” “Human Highway” and a moving “Out on the Weekend,” the original Canadian sad-boy anthem: it was the “Know Yourself” of 1972. Lukas Nelson took lead vocals on “September Song,” a track Willie sang beautifully on “Stardust”: it was a thrill to hear the son’s similarity to his dad, but better to watch Young do his best Nelson-style guitar solo.
And in a three-hour-ish set, there were solos. The show’s volume gradually turned from 1 to 11: by the time the band reached “Southern Man,” the mind-meld between Young, Lukas and bassist Corey McCormick had reached a transcendent connection. But there was meandering, too, as set closer “Love and Only Love” offered volcanic, art-noise explosions that dissipated into false endings and patience-testing ambience as the hour crept toward 11. Can’t sleep in on Thursday? There’s probably a place you can go to get coffee. Just don’t tell Neil.
— David GreenwaldOctober 8, 2015 at 8:49 am #1621
Sounds great! I had no idea Young was anti-GMO. What’d you think of the Nelsons? As good as Greenwald says? And, why does that name ‘Promise of the Real’ sound familiar? Are they famous in their own right, and those of us who can’t keep up just didn’t make the connection?October 8, 2015 at 11:52 pm #1627
The Nelsons were great and complimented Neil’s playing beautifully. Lucas Nelson sounded just like Willie singing September’s Song, almost eerie. Amazing show! 3 hours non-stop and the man is turning 70 soon. Neil played a great set of wooden music, then switched to his Gretsch and jammed on Words, Alabama, and several others—then got out Ol’ Black and brought the house down with extended jams and great tunes. It couldn’t have been any better!!
Info for POTROctober 10, 2015 at 5:09 pm #1649October 10, 2015 at 9:12 pm #1656
Probably the greatest and most underrated US band of the era (other than maybe CCR, who at least got the recognition they deserved). (Of course, I had a hard time seeing Chicago and BS&T as competition, but all the AM-ers made those groups mega-million sellers.)
Good stuff – A great concert both times I saw them. And those were some pretty heavy changes on Caravanserai – ones that after a couple of listenings really sounded good.October 10, 2015 at 9:22 pm #1658
I especially enjoyed these extended jams of theirs.October 10, 2015 at 11:24 pm #1670October 17, 2015 at 11:18 pm #1752November 2, 2015 at 2:40 pm #1956
-Ireland Proposes Opening Supervised Injection Centers For Heroin Users-
“It will effectively mean a diplomatic immunity to inject heroin in a safe, secure, passionate environment.”
Ireland’s minister of drug strategy announced Monday that the country has plans to become the latest European nation to provide medically supervised injection centers for heroin users.
Minister of State for the National Drugs Strategy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin told Agence France-Presse that the first center would open in Dublin as early as next year, if the plan becomes law. Centers in Cork, Galway and Limerick would follow.
“It will effectively mean a diplomatic immunity to inject heroin in a safe, secure, passionate environment,” Ó Ríordáin said of the proposed policy.
He also detailed how the policy would work during a seminar on Monday at the London School of Economics presented by the school’s IDEAS International Drug Policy Project.
“A medically supervised injecting centre is not a ‘free for all’ for those who wish to inject drugs,” a transcript of Ó Ríordáin’s remarks reads. “It is a clinical, controlled environment which aims to engage a hard to reach population of drug user and provide defined pathways to higher threshold treatment services such as medical and social interventions and counseling services.”
Consumption rooms are doubly useful, he noted, because they are among the first facilities to gain insights into new drug use patterns and can help identify emerging trends among high-risk users, including the homeless. The use of the rooms, Ó Ríordáin said, is associated reducing high-risk behaviors that can increase the chance of blood-borne virus transmission, overdose and death.
If the proposal goes according to plan, Ireland’s supervised injection model would be similar to those that have emerged in European nations like the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, as well as other countries like Canada and Australia.
More than 90 drug consumption rooms (DCR) have been set up in countries around the world since 1986 and have proven to be an effective component of a larger harm-reduction strategy, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
“Research shows that the facilities reach their target population and provide immediate improvements through better hygiene and safety conditions for injectors,” EMCDDA writes on its website, citing its own recent report on the issue.
“At the same time, the availability of safer injecting facilities does not increase levels of drug use or risky patterns of consumption, nor does it result in higher rates of local drug acquisition crime,” it continues. “There is consistent evidence that DCR use is associated with self-reported reductions in injecting risk behaviour such as syringe sharing, and in public drug use.”
Ó Ríordáin told the Irish Times that he sees such measures as helpful toward removing the “stigma” of drug addiction, which can create shame in drug users and keep them from seeking help.
Advocates for drug policy based on public health concerns rather than criminalization praised the announcement.
“Ireland has been relatively backward on drug policy issues for many decades, which is why the government’s plan to move forward with a supervised injection facility is so welcome,” said Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of drug policy reform group the Drug Policy Alliance. “Western Europe has long been the global leader in pioneering harm reduction strategies, which is why it’s good to see fresh momentum from Ireland and other countries that initially resisted that trend.”
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