What impressed me about this article was not that the Dutch government is cracking down on coffee shops. (For the record, I’m agnostic on their drug policy. Sweden and the Netherlands both appear to have found policies that work for them.) Rather, this statement leaped out at me:
For international travelers, Amsterdam has long served as a kind of nirvana. Considered a forward-thinking capital light years ahead of the rest of the world, much of the city’s exceptional status is due its coffee shops — essentially marijuana bars — where smoking pot is perfectly legal. Coupled with other liberal sex and drug laws that have ensured a level of tolerance no European city can rival, Amsterdam has acted for many as a role model of what an enlightened 21st-century city should be.
“…a forward-thinking capital light years ahead of the rest of the world”?
“…a role model of what an enlightened 21st-century city should be.”?
All because of the drug policy that permits the purchase and use of marijuana in coffee shops? I’m afraid that this reveals more about the writer than about Amsterdam. I know a lot of people who love the city for the art, food, history and culture. Some have hit the coffee shops but most are either neutral about those districts or see them as an unfortunate aspect of the city.
For the record, I’m agnostic on their drug policy. I’m no expert on international drug policy, but it’s clear that there is no such thing as a perfect drug policy. Both permissive and restrictive drug policies have inherent problem, the question seems to be which problems you’re more willing to live with. Sweden and the Netherlands both appear to have found imperfect policies that work for them.