Bad Trip Ahead for Dutch Joint Joints



Dutch "coffee shops" famous for selling cannabis are about to see business go up in smoke.
Officials have just put the finishing touches to a measure banning smoking in cannabis-selling cafes. Due to get government approval soon, the law aims to protect employees of all companies from passive smoking.

"Any coffee shop that has employees will be affected too," said Trudy Prins, director of Dutch anti-smoking group Stivoro.

Although cannabis is formally illegal in the Netherlands, its use and sale are tolerated under strict government conditions. Coffee shops, where customers can buy a small amount of cannabis without fear of arrest, are a major tourist draw.

Coffee shop owners were aghast. "The whole point of going to a coffee shop is to smoke," said Arjan Roskam, chairman of the Union for Cannabis Retailers.

The Netherlands boasts around 800 cannabis cafes. Smoking a joint in an Amsterdam coffee shop vies with canal boat tours and trips to the flower market for a place on tourists' itineraries.