Europe and cannabis
We have all seen the dramatic events unfold in America. Nixon and then Reagan led a holy crusade against marijuana. Then came Clinton, Bush and Obama all admitting to have smoked cannabis. Today we see widespread medical marijuana use and the beginning of legal recreational pot. That is great for our American brothers, but what about Europe?
Of the roughly 500 million European Union citizens, just under 22% of adults have admitted smoking pot at some point in their lives. I would think that is a very conservative number but we will probably always be guessing at the number as long as it is illegal.The European Union is a collection of countries with different attitudes to pot. Famously in the Netherlands, pot is openly sold in coffee shops. They have not witnessed the end of the world. Their younger generations are less likely to smoke pot and crime levels have fallen. Spain have allowed cannabis collectives for the moment. Last month around a third of the Barcelona cannabis clubs were shut down however, so who knows what their policy actually is. Portugal treats cannabis from a social and medical point of view and dear old Czech Republic seems to turn a blind eye to what is very clearly a much loved herb. The UK with its stricter police delight in using tax payer money to disrupt the pot growers.
Over the last ten years cannabis in the European Union has gone from mostly Moroccan and Afghan hash to home grown pot. Like in America smaller growers are supplying to themselves, friends and a small group of others. The cost is split within the communities.
I have been reading through European Union reports on cannabis use in Europe. What is becoming very clear, is that cannabis is supporting the police over here as much as it does in America. Of the roughly one million police drug seizures in Europe, 80% are cannabis related. Let that number sink in a minute. 80%. The least harmful drug, way below tobacco and alcohol in terms of damage to your health and yet it is propping up almost the entire drug enforcement industry. America under other presidents were quite forceful in their opposition to pot so Europe is still waiting to be “guided” by the new American direction.
The European Union reports on cannabis, point to a dangerous increase in cannabis users seeking treatment for addiction. This is a very serious negative point against Cannabis. Well it is until you understand that most of the people seeking treatment in addiction clinics have been ordered to attend those centers by courts after a small amount of pot was discovered in their possession. The level of confusion on marijuana is breathtaking. The true figure of cannabis addiction is unknown. When Hartmut in Germany gets caught with pot and is given the choice between jail or an addiction course, which one do you think he will chose. He wants to be at liberty to watch Bayern Munich Football club beat the hell out of Manchester City in the champions league. He keeps his freedom, and the system collects his statistic. Round and round the wheel of bullshit goes.
Another neat little trick the European reports used to distort the facts was mixing cannabis in with its more dangerous synthetic form. As there would be little or no health damage associated with pot, they added the synthetic form, which you can buy in head shops online or in shady shops to add a little drama to the reporting. Once you add in synthetic cannabis you can talk about toxic levels which simply do not occur in the natural form. Any cases involving hospitalization was also the result of alcohol or other drugs being combined with pot. If the authorities had any real negative public health link, they would be raving about it.
So what does all this mean? The police and their budget need to keep marijuana in the same category as dangerous drugs. If you make marijuana legal then 80% of their work disappears. No more over time, no more conferences, no more expensive cross boarder raids with cool new police toys. No more business as usual. In a twist, the only ones who have more to lose than the cops from marijuana’s legalization are the big time drug dealers.
The other important thing to take away from all the European reports is the fact that young people are smoking a lot more pot than older people. About 28% of adult Czechs have smoked or are smoking pot, but 41% of 16 year old kids have smoked it. The kids know the adults are full of shit on this matter and they are all smoking. It doesn’t take a genius to work out if the kids can see how ridiculous the pot laws are, why would they believe us on anything else. We have proven how full of it we are. What kind of society that brings is anybodies guess.