Editorial: Drive-Thru Highs

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, May 10, 2001.

  1. Feature Editorial
    Source: Wall Street Journal

    Take a trip to Venlo, Holland, the world's dopiest city. Dude!
    That--or whatever is said these days simultaneously to express surprise, approval and joy--is one way to react to news that the town of Venlo, Holland, will soon be licensing drive-thru pot shops. Venlo, according to reports, is overflowing with drug tourists (most of them from nearby Germany) whose needs can no longer be met by its five licensed marijuana- and hashish-selling "coffee shops."

    So the idea is to set up these drive-thrus just outside the city limits, cater efficiently to the clientele, and see them off on their merry way. Simplicity itself, right?

    More like stupidity itself. But this gets us on the subject of drug legalization, about which the editorial position of this newspaper is tres uncool. Read on.

    As it turns out, in conceiving the idea of the drive-thrus, the city fathers of Venlo were not just adjusting supply to demand. Rather, says town spokeswoman Tamira Hankman, they were responding to "an environment that generally makes ordinary people feel unsafe." That means not only raffish drug tourists, but what these tourists bring in their wake: dealers peddling harder drugs, burglars, prostitutes, pimps and violent criminals. The hope is that the drive-thrus will, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, draw all the rats out of town.

    But the story of the Pied Piper does not have a happy ending and neither, we suspect, will this one. Recall that the piper ultimately got rid of the rats by leading them to the river where they drowned. Presumably the Venlo city council does not propose to do the same with the drug tourists, meaning (at best) that they'll simply move into somebody else's backyard.

    Recall, too, that the piper, in revenge for having not been paid, piped the town's children to the mountain, from which they were never heard from again. We won't abuse this fable any longer except to note that the Netherlands registered a 250% increase in adolescent marijuana use following the liberalization of its drug laws in the 1980s. With the Venlo scheme, any teenager who can see above the dashboard of daddy's car may purchase drugs without much being done to verify his age. We only hope it won't occur to the boys and girls to get high on the road and forget to buckle their seatbelts.

    Nor is the Venlo plan likely to get rid of the town's really criminal types. Those who frequent Venlo to get the harder stuff will keep coming, since they probably already know a dealer and don't want to go through the hassle of finding a new one elsewhere. And what's to keep the drive-thru customers from buying drugs and then coming to town? From what we can tell, the Venlo plan makes no provision for a drawbridge and moat.

    Defenders of current drug laws in Holland argue that the social problems associated with liberalization are the fault of outsiders who abuse the system, not the Dutch themselves. Thus the vast increases in heroin addiction, property crime, gun-related deaths, organized criminal activity, and the consequent need for one of the largest police forces in the world--all that, it's argued, could be solved if every other country in the world adopted enlightened Dutch ways.

    Maybe. But until the rest of the world goes Dutch, the Dutch will have a problem. Legalization may reduce the incentive for drug-related crime, but it also vastly increases the number of users, a significant point given that 80% of violent crime in the U.S. is committed by people under the influence of some form of intoxicant. And this is all the more true if only marijuana is decriminalized, as the consequences of looser social restrictions and more drug-influenced behavior are not even partly offset by a decrease in heroin- and cocaine-use-related crime.

    In fact, the more we think about it, the more it seems to us that the drive-thru idea is so dumb it could only have occurred to someone completely stoned. We trust the good citizens of Venlo are sober enough to notice.

    Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
    Published: May 9, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
    Contact: letter.editor@wsj.com
    Website: http://www.wsj.com/

    Related Articles & Web Site:

    Amsterdam Coffee Shop Directory http://www.coffeeshop.freeuk.com/

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