Dutch treat excludes foreigners from coffee shops
What if the United States banned foreigners from its major chain fast food restaurants? After all, fast food is something tourists want to check out while they visit America.
Eating fast food in a fast food restaurant is perfectly legal in the United States, whether you are an American or a visitor.
Separating out foreigners from our fast food restaurants would be asinine, especially since worldwide tourism is down due to increased airline travel scrutiny and a worldwide recession. But the new Dutch government is doing just that by banning foreigners from its coffee shops.
You could be outraged at comparing marijuana with fast food, and there is more than one way to find the comparison to be insulting. But the new Netherlands government wants to crack down on foreigners in coffee shops.
The radical change in policy doesn’t seem to be matched up to the facts. What is bought in the coffee shop has to be consumed on the property. The coffee shops don’t serve alcohol. And regardless of where you stand on marijuana, the drug helps you relax.
Like America and The Netherlands, there are plenty of other things to do while in those countries than fast food and coffee shops. But travel isn’t just about seeing things; travel encompasses a full, rich experience of what it is like to live in that country.
You eat bagels and poutine in Montreal; you get fish and chips in London; a bowl of spaghetti or a true Italian pizza in Rome because there is a distinct richness to those experiences in those countries.
This isn’t to say that you have to do these things; but you want to as the expression goes, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
This isn’t about the ability to smoke pot. This is about doing something that may not be legal back home but you can do in another country, provided you follow their rules. To be like a Dutch person, you need to experience what they do in their own environment.
Every day, at least one person in the United States is smoking pot. But unless they have a prescription for medicinal marijuana, there is always the fear of police action. And police action is still a threat even if you have that prescription.
To smoke pot in a public setting without fear of apprehension – that is worth traveling in an airplane. But if you are thinking about going to The Netherlands, you might not have that opportunity.
Americans who are 19 and 20 years old can travel to Canada to drink. And if you have ever spent a Saturday night in Windsor, Ontario, you know they take advantage of Canada’s laws. And there are 18 year old Americans drinking in Montreal bars, where the provincial drinking age is 18.
At some point in the 20th century in the United States, you could smoke pot legally and drink in quite a few areas at the ages of 18-20. Now you can’t do either of those things. To someday bring those laws back to where they were, people need to experience those events in a natural environment where they are legal and safe.
The Netherlands have proven that you can decriminalize the use of marijuana and produce a positive effect on society. To rob foreigners of the chance to experience that for themselves is an insult to the world’s citizens.
There is an obligation to demonstrate to the world that these policies work, so other countries can learn the best way to make society work as well as possible. The United States welcome those to come to this country to see Americans up close and see how we live.
We open up our 7-11s and fast food restaurants to all who visit so they can see how we live in our natural habitat. All we ask from the Dutch is to do the same. Cooperation within the world is a beautiful thing; the new Dutch government needs to see that for themselves.