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-WORLD & NATION
"Stoner vote" dictates trade business of the Netheriands
BY ALEX LiNDBERG
Imagine you're sitting in a hazy coffee shop,
hearing faint Jimi Hendrix songs as you puff on
your pipe. Your eyes settle on canals and rows
of buildings opposite the shop. A glance at the
wall behind the counter reveals a poster with
marijuana leaves and the word "Vote" in large
print. This is a common scene for Amsterdam
residents as shop owners persuade costumers
to vote in the September general election.
As of Jan. 1, 2013, no non-Netherlands
resident or anyone without an issued
identification card, will be permitted to buy
marijuana in the Netherlands. This ban on
trade could push the Dutch economy into a
sharp decline, given fewer tourists may visit
and the main product they sell will remain on
The last hope for the coffee shop business
falls on the ^pt. 12 Dutch elections where
repeal of the new law will be on the ballot. This
chance may go to waste, however, should their
native clientele neglect to get out and vote.
As referred to in popular media, the "stoner
vote" is critical to repealing this legislation.
Should Dutch "stoners" struggle to muster up
the energy to reach the polls that day or merely
forget the election is happening altogether, the
marijuana ban may become permanent.
"We are trying to make clear to cannabis
consumers all over Holland ... that this year is
your last chance to save your cannabis policy
and your coffee shop," Marc Josemans, head of
Maastricht's coffee shop association told The
Huffington Post. "And therefore, it's about
time you get out of your lazy chairs on Sept. 12
and vote for a cannabis-friendly party."
The distribution and usage of cannabis has
never been legal in the Netherlands, rather
it has been tolerated by the government and
police force. Due to recent pressure from the
rest of the EU, leniency may shift with the
passing of the ban.
"The rationale behind it (the ban) was to
prevent injury to tourists who come over, eat
or smoke too much and freak out or jump in
a canal — which actually happens far more
than you'd think — but there also seems
to be some political pressure from the EU
behind it," said Patrick Mitchell 11, a resident
of the Netherlands, in an ^ail interview.
"Belgium was complaining that many people
from France were coming up and buying it
(marijuana) at the border then driving back
through Belgium, trafficking it along the way."
Because of this illicit trafficking, the south
Netherlands was the first to implement the
ban, causing; several coffee shops' profit to
deldne, closing their doors for good.
"It is extremely doubtful the coffee shops
(can) survive if the policy continues," said
The other problem is the rise in the black
market trade of marijuana around the country.
It is suspected that coffee shops shutting
down, combined with increased restrictions on
the purchase of cannabis, will lead to citizens
selling the drug to tourists privately. Mth this
potential rise in the black-market trade, some
expect violence as a result.
'There are already a lot of blank storefronts,
and I can see a lot more of (the shops) closing
because of this law," said recent Amsterdam
visitor Hm Lmdberg '10 in an email interview.
"Along with this increase in illegal trade, we
are bound to see more violence."
The country has already seen a 60 percent
profit loss from restricting the trade in the
southern provinces and protesters have
been calling for a repeal of ihe ban, claiming
Those elected to serve as the new
administration have the decision of either
upholding or removing the ban. Should
the ban come into full effect in Amsterdam,
the level of harm that could follow remains
unknown, but dreaded nonetheless.
"I'm not sure what effect it will have on
Amsterdam," said Mitchell. "The (tobacco)
smoking ban enacted in July 2008 is pretty
much ignored and, as far as I can tell, not
enforced. If the new 'resident only law' is
enforced, it will probably just move the activity
into the streets, with &e locals buying and
taking their cut selling it on the black market."
In North Carolina, a state where marijuana
is decriminalized, the question of its legality
remains an issue. House Bill 577, which would
legalize cannabis for medical use, has been
held under consideration for the past two
"When it comes to legalizing (marijuana).
I'm all for it," said Assistant Professor of
Political Science Robert Duncan. "It isn't a
gateway drug; it helps people with depression
and other serious medical issues."
Duncan continued, "Last I heard, a survey
found about 70-80 percent of people in favor
of it, so the real question is: why isn't the
government legalizing cannabis?"
Fake cigarette scandal: dead flies and more
BY HAEJiN SONG
Recipe to make fake cigarettes: add
asbestos, a little bit of mold, dead flies, and
finally, human excrement.
Amidst the cigarette smuggling cases that
have surfaced in the UK, British detectives
recently uncovered that some of the
counterfeits had been composed of these
"I have never ever heard that," said an
anonymous employee at a large North
Carolina tobacco outiet. "That is crazy. If this
is a true story, I know I wouldn't smoke."
Others may think twice before lighting a
cigarette for now but for some, habits will
"I've been smoking for like two years,"
said an anonymous student. "You don't
suddenly quit a habit because of a blip in a
kind of tobacco you may not even smoke."
According to Russia Today, Swiss-based
brand protection company, MS Intelligence,
launched Operation Empty Discarded Pack
Collection. Through this investigation,
undercover detectives spent weeks looking
through litter bins and scanning pavements
for cigarette butts to understand the scale of
the black markets, reported Sunday Mercury.
MS Intelligence found that 31 percent of
the retrieved cigarette packets were either
counterfeits or smuggled into the country,
compared to the mere 14 percent last year.
In Derbyshire of England, a load of
cigarettes were made from crushed dead
Will O'Reilly, former Scotland Yard
detective and current researcher for tobacco
group Philip Morris, told Sunday Mercury,
"Bring a container of cigarettes into this
country and you're talking 1.5 million
British pounds, which roughly equates to
This isn't the first time black markets
of the tobacco industry have cheated
brand name companies and taxpayers. A
spokesman for lobby group International
Tax and Investment Centre said, "Duty (tax)
goes impaid on almost one in three cigarettes
smoked in Birmingham."
Nowadays, many fake cigarettes originate
from the Far East, especially China, and
are in packaging almost identical to the
real thing. Sunday Mercury reported that
trade is no longer dominated by so-called
"White Van Man" bulk-buying abroad, but
rather, the system has become much more
These types of cigarettes, nicknamed
"whites" in the industry, are legally produced
abroad for the purpose of smuggling into
other markets, such as the UK market. They
are then sold illegally to avoid tax deduction.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance in the UK found
that 12.2 billion British pounds, or $19.8
billion, was lost to the illegal cigarette
trade in the financial year of 2009-2010. In
addition, a significant 50 percent of hand-
rolled tobacco is illegal.
The lack of certainty in the tobacco
products being sold is a large concern.
"There are certain regulations we have
to follow because of fake cigarettes," said
an anonymous employee at the North
Carolina tobacco outlet. "We have limits on
kinds of cigarettes, and we can't return any
cigarettes because we can't guarantee that
the cigarettes coming back to us are real."
The sheer volume of the illicit trade and
discovery of urmatural substances has been
gaining attention from both smokers and
While some smokers may think of dead
flies next time they grab a cigarette, others
remain apathetic to the discovery.
"After Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle' did
people become skeptical of eating meat for
a significant period of time?" asked Early
College student Yasir Azam. "No," Azam
answered his own question. "A short drop in
sales, then publicity of 'reform,' followed by
amnesia. Smokers will forget this just as they
forgot the rats in their hotdogs."
Shell Oil recklessly plunges into
Alaskan waters, lawsuit now filed
BY ALAYNA BRADLEY
Shell Oil Company has spent years trying
to obtain permission to drill off the coast of
Alaska, in which time they have faced lawsuits,
flack from environmental organizations,
gigantic sea-ice blocking drilling sites and,
most recently, the damage to the containment
dome — a crucial mechanism in preventing
environmental damage in case of oil leaks.
Due to this critique and damage. Shell Oil
has canceled its plans to drill this season and
decided to hold off on the project until next
On Sept. 8, Shell Oil began drilling 70 miles
off the Alaskan coast in the Chukchi Sea.
Shell has been under scrutiny from groups
like Greenpeace and Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility — also known
as Peer, a group that helps US federal and state
employees sound the alarm on environmental
protection issues — due to potentially
insufficient testing of its oil-leak prevention
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
stated that all exploration in Alaska would be
done under "the strongest oversight, safety
requirements and emergency response plans
According to documents obtained through
the Freedom of Information Act, however, ffie
capping stack was only tested for about two
hours. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental
had just two officials present at the testing.
The Guardian reports that the group filing suit
against Shell is Peer.
'The first test merely showed that Shell
could dangle its cap in 200 feet of water witliout
dropping it," said Kathryn Douglass, a Peer
staff lawyer, in an interview with The Guardian.
'The second test showed the capping system
could hold up imder laboratory conditions for
up to 15 minutes without crumbling. Neither
result should give the American public much
Shell responded, aiguing that the capping
stack was one of many mechanisms that wiU
be deployed in the case of an oil spill. They did
not, however, address the brief amount of time
spent testing the capping stack.
It is no surprise that radical environmental
organization Greenpeace has responded
negatively to Shell Oil drilling in Alaska.
"Such recklessness wouldn't look out of
place in a stock-car race," Ben Ayliffe, senior
Arctic campaigner at Greenpeace told The
Guardian. 'The only option now is for the US
government to call a halt to Shell's plans to
open up the frozen north because the company
is so dearly unable to operate safely in the
planet's most extreme environment."
Biology major Kristy Lapenta '15 shaiod
"Alaska's ecosystem is delicate and its
waters are home to many different endangered
and vulnerable marine life," said Lapenta. "I
really dislike that Shell now has permission to
At the same time that Shell began drilling,
the company was also performing its final test
of the oil spill containment dome. During this
test, the dome broke.
A Shell company representative told
Bloomberg, "We are disappointed that the
dome has not yet met our stringent acceptance
standards, but as we have said all along, we
will not conduct any operation until we are
satisfied that we are fully prepared to do it
As a result of these setbacks and critidsms.
Shell Oil has announced it will postpone all
drilling for oil this year and instead plans on
drilling smaller "top holes" in preparation for
the following year.
At last, Greenpeace and other concerned
dtizens can take a deep breath until Shell
addresses the pending lawsuit, the Alaskan
coast's valued nature, and the failed