Monday, March 22, 2010

Only in Amsterdam ...

Just over a week ago, myself and boyfriend T hopped on a plane to spend a long weekend in Amsterdam.

"I've always wanted to try smoking marijuana," says boyfriend T to me, before we leave, "and I can do that in Amsterdam, can't I?"

"Yes, but you can also do that in London!" I reply, "I'm sure that some of our friends could point us in the right direction if you really want to do that :-)."

"I know, but I'd rather do it semi-legally. So I think Amsterdam is a better choice!"

Although I've never indulged much in drugs, apart from alcohol, I love the Dutch policy towards drug-taking :-). In a nutshell, taking soft drugs such as marijuana is still illegal in the Netherlands, but it's not punishable! My personal policy is that everyone should be responsible for their own well being, so it were up to me I'd legalise both hard and soft drugs, which would have a useful side effect of creating additional tax revenues. However, until that enlightened day arrives, the Dutch model is a reasonable alternative.

Thinking about drugs policies, there are actually parallels here to the way gay people are treated. Some people are gay, and they’ll always be some people who want to take drugs, and trying to legislate against human nature is always pointless. If I believed in conspiracy theories, I'd be convinced that the world's drug cartels must have the world's major governments in their pockets, to keep drugs illegal and hence perpetuate their revenues. It's hard to think of any other reason why the current flawed policy of prohibition would have been pursued so unsuccessfully for so long!

"Have you had marijuana before, GB?" asks boyfriend T over dinner on the first night of the trip to Amsterdam.

"A bit," I reply, "but since I'm not a smoker I never got into it, even though a few of my university friends were quite keen on it."

"So won't you share a spliff with me then?"

"Why don't we find a coffee shop that also sells the 'space cakes' :-)," I suggest, "and then I'll have one of those while you smoke your joint! I quite enjoyed the space cakes when I had one a few years ago :-)."

"OK great. So let's find a coffee shop after dinner, because because if we go tomorrow morning and get high we may end up wasting the day!"

Wandering around the streets after dinner, it doesn't take too long to find a plausible looking coffee shop. As soon as we walk in, it's immediately clear that we've come to the right place.

"Hmmm, I've always quite liked the smell of marijuana," I say quietly to boyfriend T, "don't you?"

"Actually I'm not so sure," he replies, "it doesn't smell that good to me."

There's a small queue at the counter, and when the people in front of us ask for the marijuana menu, the female shop assistant points them at a mirror on the wall.

"Press the button at the bottom," she says, and when they do that, a light comes on inside the mirror revealing the menu.

While the people in front of us are paying, myself and boyfriend T have a look at the menu, but since we're not regular marijuana users it doesn't mean much to us. Some is listed as local, some comes from Morocco and other far away destinations, but what's best for us given that we're novices isn't clear.

"Can you give us some advice?" I ask the shop assistant when it's our turn, "my friend wants to try smoking a joint, but we don't know what would be best. And I'd quite like a space cake if you've got any?"

"No problem," she replies, "I've got two space cakes left :-). They usually take 30-60 minutes for you to feel the effect, but then you'll probably feel like going to sleep! Also, I wouldn't recommend it if you've been drinking alcohol. For the cannabis, I suggest you smoke one of our milder varieties, but that will work much faster than the space cakes."

"I only had a bit of wine over dinner," I say to the shop assistant, "so I'm sure I'll be OK :-)."

The only other time that I had a space cake, I did indeed fall asleep. I was with ex-boyfriend S at the time, also in Amsterdam, and on that occasion we both ate a space cake mid-morning. We then wandered around the town a bit, but about an hour later, poor ex-boyfriend S was having a bit of a bad experience with it. However, I was very much enjoying feeling slightly high, and all I could do was giggle! Luckily though, I managed to get us both back to the hotel, and I had a lovely afternoon asleep cuddling up to ex-boyfriend S, while enjoying the effects of the space cake :-). Unfortunately though, it didn't get any better for him :-(.

"It's a pity that they work at different speeds," I say to boyfriend T once we've made our purchases, "but at least it'll soon be bedtime so it won't matter if it makes me fall asleep."

While I eat my space cake, we get some help from a couple of the other coffee shop clients in assembling boyfriend T's spliff, who seem very friendly.

"This is my 18 year old brother," giggles the young woman, and the curly haired youth next to her grins at us, "and it's his birthday today :-)."

"What have you been doing for your birthday?" I ask.

"We've been cycling around, visiting as many coffee shops as we can find," he giggles, before taking another big drag on his joint.

Soon boyfriend T starts to giggle a bit too.

"Oh," he says a little later, "suddenly I feel very very tired."

I decide that we'd both better get back to our hotel, before either of us falls asleep. Half way back to the hotel, boyfriend T breaks into an almost uncontrollable fit of giggles.

"I don't know why I'm doing that!" he says, trying to regain control of himself and failing!

"Don't worry," I say, but soon I find myself giggling a bit too.

Back in the hotel, we get undressed quickly and jump naked into bed with each other. We cuddle up in each other's arms, and soon boyfriend T is fast asleep. But I continue to lie there, feeling drowsy, and then gradually I start to get a bit of a headache. All through the night I find myself frequently waking up with a bad headache and feeling exceptionally thirsty, and whenever I fall asleep my dreams are slightly disturbing. It's certainly not the pleasant and enjoyable experience that I had last time :-(.

"Time to get up," says boyfriend T to me around 10:30am the next day, sitting down on the bed and holding me gently on my shoulders.

"Errr, what?" I say, finding it hard to wake up, "I feel terrible :-(."

As I get out of bed, I find myself almost falling over as I walk to the bathroom.

"Are you OK?" asks boyfriend T, sounding quite concerned.

"Errr, NO! I don't think so :-(. My mouth is so dry :-((."

Feeling very unstable on my feet, somehow I make my way into the bathroom, and while I shower boyfriend T stands near me in case I fall over.

"Oh dear," I say, "I think I'm going to need to take it easy today :-(."

"Actually I didn't enjoy my joint at all," says boyfriend T to me later, when I've woken up a bit more and can almost walk in straight line.

"Why not?" I ask.

"I didn't like giggling when my mind didn't want to! I kept thinking, there's nothing funny here, so why am I laughing."

"Control freak!" I say, managing to laugh slightly, "you just have to go with it."

"I guess that's what you did," replies boyfriend T swiftly, "but look what's happened to you!"

"I didn't enjoy it at all this time," I admit, "and I still feel terrible. Perhaps it was unwise to eat the space cake after drinking wine over dinner?"

Whatever the reason for my bad reaction to the space cakes, it certainly doesn't change my views about legalising drugs. The only person to blame for my experience is myself!


Anonymous said...

hard drugs don't just destroy the lives of the users; they tear apart families (and societies) too

i'd like to live in a drug-free world, thanks

Leon Koh said...

why would people still wanna do drugs in this day..sigh

just to let you know that a reader of your blog is here and giving you support for your effort to update your blog



GB said...

One could argue Anonymous, whoever you are, that's it's drug users who choose to destroy their own lives.

Thanks for your support Leon :-).

GB xxx

Antony said...

Hi GB,

I've read some interesting articles around the legalisation of drugs in the UK. If it was don't right, I think in a lot of ways it would be better.

If you google "Blueprint legalisation of drugs" it should pull up a paper written by some university boffins that's an interesting read.

I love reading about your adventures with Boyfriend T. :D Keep writing them.

Oh hey, why I am not linked to your blog, I've linked to yours. Did I need to email you or somet?


A x

GB said...

Hey Antony, sorry that I didn't spot that you'd linked to me, I've got out of the habit of updating that part of my blog at the moment. But I've put in a reciprocal link back to your blog now :-).

And if there are any other readers that have put links to my blog that I haven't reciprocated yet, then please let me know.

GB xxx

Anonymous said...


In my experience (which may not be everyone's) I've seen more lives and families torn apart by alcohol abuse, sex and money.

Like most things, there is a minority of drug users who abuse them to the point of self destruction.

Living in a big city, I see recreational drug use all around me. Most of the time it's relatively harmless and the users carry on perfectly normal 9-5 lives. There's no noticeable negative impact on society whatsoever. Again, the impact of legal alcohol abuse both on families and society is tangilble and visible every single day.

Having said that, if you do anything long enough or hard enough and you're going to suffer the consequences. I don't buy the negative aspects leading to the degeneration of society. I'm more inclined to believe that the degeneration of society leads to increased drug use by the disenfranchised, dejected and simply bored. The places where the 'bad' drugs take hold are typically places where society is already failing.

Blaming a symptom is pointless is such circumstances. Blame the cause...

And no, I'm not a major drug user. I drink. I simply don't subscribe to biassed negative propoganda when my eyes tell me something different. Yes, there are large populations which have been devastated by drugs like crystal meth. The drug just poured gasoline on a fire that was already burning.

I've heard enough tail-wagging-dog logic from people blaming gays for the downfall of morality, decline of marriage etc. Sure, if you take away a gun from a potential suicide victim then they can't shoot themselves. It doesn't stop them from being suicidal.

Lumping all drug users into one negative group is nonsensical.

Anonymous said...

If hard drugs were legal, more people would try them, not just "failing" sections of society, who don't mind breaking the law. That would mean a lot more people getting hooked. Any addiction is not something to be taken lightly, and hard drugs do take a toll on the people around you. Alcohol abuse/binge drinking and all its effects are a far far milder version of what we would end up with.

Playing with the the metaphor, as much as drugs may have poured gasoline on the fire, there is no reason to keep gasoline next to the fire! Or store gasoline in homes and offices for that matter, in the name of personal choice. One can of course learn to handle it but needless to say it is still dangerous and affect others around you.

The social model we have today also does try to make up for bad decisions and disagreeable consequences. For eg an adrenaline junkie's injuries are treated for free. So would all the disorders hard drug takers would end up with will take its toll, a monetary one at the very least. We could draw a line and say society at large only helps the needy, whose fates were not of their choosing. But then what of those who made bad decisions?

May I suggest the movie "Requeim for a Dream". It did have quite the impact on me. I would never wish that on anyone, the consequences of a moment of weakness and simply not knowing any better.

Rex D said...

I used to be of the mindset that drugs should be legal as well. I'm not a drug user myself, but have smoked pot occasionally and drink socially and smoke cigarettes daily. However, as a smoker, I now realize how disruptive an addiction can be. Quitting smoking plagues my mind sometimes. At times I feel as though there is no point anymore, in anything, because I'm a smoker who can't stop... so what is the sense in having a future. Whether this is reality or not, it is often the thoughts of those addicted to something. Alcohol is much worse, as it really deteriorates the body to a point of no return for many people. I still feel marijuana would benefit from legalization.... less contamination, more control of the end product, less chance of people getting bad weed, much safer.... but as far as meth, cocaine, etc... we need to eliminate them entirely. I think instead of fighting for gay rights, we need to be fighting drugs.