According to Dutch television show ‘Spuiten en Slikken’, which talks candidly about drugs with young adults, the picturesque fishing village of Volendam uses more drugs per capita than cities like Milan, Paris and London. The sewer water, which was tested by the KWR Watercycle Research Institute, came up with the equivalent of one line of cocaine per 40 inhabitants. With XTC, Volendam takes the No. 3 spot in Europe, just behind the cities of Amsterdam and Eindhoven.
In July we already told you that Amsterdam had sewers full of hard drugs, but Volendam only has 22,000 inhabitants, although it attracts a lot of weekend drug users. Volendam is not as much the butt of jokes as the town of Urk, where kids drink and snort their religion-induced boredom away, but is home to many Dutch music artists that people either love or find annoying, making this discovery an excuse to make fun of Volendam.
Test the sewer waters in a city and scientists will tell you about your city, a bit like reading tea leaves, but a lot more accurate. Apparently, Amsterdam’s sewer water is full of cocaine and XTC, as scientists tested the water of 19 European cities. There is also a lot of cannabis floating around, but come weekend, ‘coke’ and XTC take over as the dominant hard drugs of choice, both also very popular in Antwerp, Belgium. In Scandinavian cities they’re more into speed.
Measuring sewage samples is said to be produce more reliable data about drug use than surveys, where people often provide sociably acceptable answers.
“What about countries like Amsterdam?” An American sheriff who obviously failed geography claims he was “crossing over bodies lying in the street” when he visited Amsterdam. I bet he was saying that to entertain the posse behind him. Tip: the War on Drugs is a complete wash. Both sides kinda come off silly in this video, although the sheriff takes the space cake.
Run by American Kevin McKernan, with a laboratory in Amsterdam, the Mecca of cannabis, the company Medicinal Genomics has deciphered the genetic identity of cannabis, DNA sequence and all.
Apparently, Cannabis sativa“has 84 other compounds that could fight pain or possibly even shrink tumors. But anti-marijuana laws make it difficult for scientists to breed and study the plant in most countries. That’s one reason he decided to publish his data for free on Amazon’s EC2, a public data cloud.”
The idea is of course to produce all kinds of ‘good’ products without the nasty side effects of getting high. And then you can’t grow plants just anywhere to conduct experiments in many countries, and so the Netherlands is quite convenient sometimes.
Dutch Health Minister Edith Schippers has decided to pull the plug on a breast cancer drug which can extend the lives of women who have an advanced form of the disease. Bottom line: the minister believes it’s expensive and has no added value, which is pretty much code for ‘they’ll die anyway, just later on’. Most people who get cancer do die of it, sadly, so the logic is elusive at best.
Although this pill-based chemotherapy treatment (read the data) prolongs life, stops the spread of cancer to the brain, is approved in nearly all EU countries and is registered with the European pharmaceutical authority EMA, the Minister is going ahead with her plans, and doctors are livid.
The Netherlands has the fourth highest rate of breast cancer in the world. By cutting this funding, it also shows it isn’t interested in a cure, just budget cuts.
The city of Amsterdam has been told today by the Council of State (no more appeals can be made) that it is breaking the Opium Law by putting up signs that designate certain places as ‘no-blow’ zones (‘blowen’ in Dutch is smoking pot). The first ever area of Amsterdam was around a public place called Mercatorplein, 800 metres from my place.
Mercatorplein is notorious for being regularly overhauled (love the last job, with a play fountain and trendy restaurant) and having been designed by famous artist H.P Berlage (with a tower that was broken down in 1961 and rebuilt in 1995). In recent times, it has been the backdrop for a riot between the Dutch Moroccan community and the police, as well as a hit and run where the driver ran over a known female cabaret artist, but the licence plate of his car fell off.
Way back some residents in the East of the city asked for the ban to keep their kids’ playground clean. They actually didn’t get the ban, only because the city thought it was a bit harsh.
In the Netherlands and contrary to all the tourist websites, soft drugs are illegal, as stated in the Opium Law. But yes, we go to the coffee shops and buy pre-rolled joints just like you buy a pack of smokes at the shop. The law is simply ignored and soft drugs are ‘tolerated’.
The crazy logic is because soft drugs are forbidden, you don’t need a sign to forbid them again. Of course, this is not in tune with reality, but then again neither is the Opium Law.
First, British students who apparently were interested in studying in the Netherlands and now the media tells us of wanted British criminals enjoying the good life in our wee country, mainly Amsterdam because it kinda looks like back home.
“In the past three years, 83 British fugitives – 10 of them wanted for murder – have been arrested in the Netherlands. But the Dutch police are getting good at catching these people and sending them back to the UK. They don’t want them here.”
Well duh! Of course we don’t want criminals here per se, silly journalist. Amsterdam sports some Irish pubs, well known food and clothing chains, and an overwhelming amount of English (Dunglish), let alone good weed and whores. ‘Costa del Crime’ they call it. What’s next?
Every country in the world has that one town that people make fun of and in the Netherlands, that town is Urk, Flevoland.
The former island (that could explain some weirdness) seems to attract attention by making decisions based on its strong religious beliefs that are akin to fighting windmills because nothing they do seems to work, it just seems to get worse.
After banning strippers, attempting beer confiscation and littering the rest of the country with creationist folders, it’s now time to score some drug sniffing dogs to enforce the town-wide marijuana ban, which ironically is illegal. Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten warned Urk’s city council that it cannot declare the entire village a drug-free zone because that’s illegal. But hey, when you do things based on your religious beliefs the law goes out the window pretty fast and you can get away with murder.
The word on the Internet is that the kids in Urk are some of the most messed up youth in the area not because of some sort of preponderance of drugs and booze, but because of the very religious city council constantly making them the object of their problems. We’ll save the hard drug use and unwanted pregnancies stories for later.
Some 12 years ago after my first real Dutch party, someone bravely got up the next morning, made coffee and threw on a CD of comedy songs and sketches by Kees van Kooten and Wim de Bie (aka ‘Koot en Bie’), one of the most famous Dutch comedy acts ever. I could understand the odd word, but this song called ‘Stoont Als ‘n Garnaal’ was something I could dig. It means ‘Stoned as a Shrimp’ (I’d rather have an aliteration, so I didn’t use ‘prawn’ on purpose), and the Dutch ‘stoont’ is incorrect on purpose, it should also be ‘stoned’.
At uncle Piet’s party
There was some very good weed
After the second ‘stick’
Everyone got a kick
But Granny Van de Kamp
Wanted to get higher
Started swinging from the lamp
And sang this refrain
We’re as stoned as a shrimp
Stoned as a shrimp
Take another toke
‘Cause stoned as a shrimp
That’s what we all are
Branko: “I guess he just doesn’t give a shit anymore. Is he the guy who coveted a job in Europe?” (as in, if I can’t be Prime Minister (power is addictive), I’ll try for some job at the EU level, which he didn’t get because people don’t like him there either!) Orangemaster: “He’s going doooown tonight.”
Freshly ousted Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende (in the pic), who has just caused a historic loss for his Christian-values peddling party, is wearing a T-shirt with a big swear word and is drinking the worst drug kids will probably ever encounter in their lives: alcohol.
Balkie, as we call him, was visiting the picturesque fishing village of Volendam, where ironically, the youth are bored to tears, drink themselves into a stupor and take lots of drugs when beer doesn’t do the job. But much like Balkie himself, they close their eyes to how people view these problems (total lack of self-relfection), look at the scenery of their touristic village and act like every is fine.
I gladly use this photo taken by Michael Sijbom, ironically (and I laugh writing this), campaign strategist for Balkie’s political party who needs as much image rebuilding as Rotterdam did after WWII.
Next Monday is the premiere of the film ‘C’est Fini’ (It’s over’) in Antwerp, Belgium, a comedy film made by the Dutch cities of Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom near the Belgian border to inform drug tourists about not being able to buy drugs anymore in both cities.
As of tomorrow, coffeeshops in both cities will no longer be allowed to sell soft drugs (hashish and marijuana). Coffeeshops that do sells drugs will be shut down for five years after a first warning. About 90% of all the drugs sold in these cities are to Flemish youth, which adds up to some 25,000 drug tourists.
The film’s plot has three Flemish guys trying to score a joint in the Netherlands. You can catch the trailer here (warning, nasty splash page).
The Dutch could just stop selling soft drugs altogether, some do say, others think that it’s still better to be relaxed about soft drugs in order to dissuade people from taking hard drugs. The current trend is that most people would probably not have the Netherlands known as some sort of coffeeshop and prostituion heaven, but hey, it’s part of the country’s identity at this point and it does attract the right tourists in some places. The jury is defintely still out on this, so to speak.
And don’t ask me why the poster has three languages on it (English = cool, French = cool to the Flemish, Dutch/Flemish = to be understood).