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The Netherlands Bans Tobacco Smoking in Public - Marijuana Still OK!

posted 06:44 PM EST, Fri June 20, 2008
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The Netherlands Bans Tobacco Smoking in Public - Marijuana Still OK! © Photo: Katie Dureault

A law to come into effect in July will ban the smoking of tobacco in all public places Marijuana is not mentioned in the law, and so the decriminalized drug is exempt from the ban.

Come the first of July, The Netherlands will enact a law banning all indoor public smoking…of tobacco. Marijuana, it seems, will remain exempt from the otherwise encompassing legislation.

The Netherlands has, since the mid 70's, supported a decriminalization of marijuana, and allows for the sale of small quantities of cannabis in licensed "coffee shops". As the new legislation covers only tobacco, marijuana smokers will remain able to visit a local coffee shop and smoke within the premises – as long as their joints do not contain any tobacco.

Coffee shop proprietors in Amsterdam will remain able to serve customers a marijuana smoking environment, but they aren’t at all happy about how legislation might affect their sales. Robert Kempen, owner of 2 shops, said "The rule makes him sick to death" explaining as he rolled a joint that, "Every customer will have to learn how to smoke pure."

Nima Gani, a Dutch customer interviewed at one of the nation's 700+ coffee shops said that smoking pure marijuana joints burned his throat, and the new ban on tobacco, and mixed joints, would probably keep him away from the shops.

Commentators remain uncertain about the enforceability of the new law, specifically - how inspectors would be able to distinguish between pure and mixed joints. Dutch Cannabis sales totaled almost 2 billion dollars last year.

Rida Oulad, an employee at Ibiza, another marijuana friendly coffee shop in Amsterdam, predicted falling sales ahead, saying, "Why would you go to a coffee shop where you can't smoke and the only remaining activities are sitting and watching television?''

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