I don’t know Lee and Sachi personally but seems i am only a degree or two of separation apart … either way, I’ve been following along on their round the world trip and they’ve recently come ’round to Europe and into Amsterdam.
With my particular interest in the social policies of The Nederlands – having visited Amsterdam (Flickr tag) several times – (listen to Choogle on with Uncle Weed podcast episode #27), i read Lee’s recent missive with great interest.
Yup, it’s all about the harm reduction and tolerance and it turns out that decriminalization and normalization does statistically reduce abuse and use – perhaps getting high and screwing whores really are less enticing when the risk/thrill factor is removed ;-).
Thick snippet below but read the whole piece at Sex and Drugs in Liberal Holland.
I described Amsterdam to my Mom as “A bastion of hedonism”. Sure, it has beautiful canals, nice people, amazing sights, about a billion bicycles and a ton of charm, but what is truly impressive about Amsterdam and what differentiates it on a worldwide scale is the liberal policies of the Dutch government concerning drugs and prostitution.
For instance, we stayed in a guesthouse in the Red Light District and within two blocks of our guesthouse, anyone with the money can legally buy “soft drugs” like marijuana, mushrooms and hashish in small quantities and sexual services from a host of licensed prostitutes who display their wares in large windows under red lights. I suppose you could also see some music and complete the hedonists triumverate of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.
The view from our place:
For the visitor to Amsterdam, these elements of the city can be surprising and intimidating – we talked to some people who would not step foot into the Red Light District. However, I think it is more surprising that the city doesn’t have the overall feel of a “bad neighborhood” with a high frequency of drugs, sex shops and prostitutes. There is a ragged and depressing element to the Red Light District, but I don’t think it is much different than any other city – it is just that tourists are exposed and invited to participate in activities that would otherwise be managed in dark alleys and controlled by criminals instead of government agencies.
The Dutch policy seems based on the idea that people are going to do what they are going to do, regardless of the government or the potential for punishment. And if this is true, their only tools are regulation, taxation and tolerance. It makes sense to me and the Dutch folks we talked to about it.