Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pot scene thriving in Prague

But mainly for the natives. LAT has an entertaining profile piece on the barely underground cannabis culture of the Czechs. This is a must read in full, but I'll give you a few choice grafs.
Do you mind?" says Dolezal, his face slightly obscured as he exhales. "Excuse me if I don't offer you any. This marijuana's often too strong for my visitors. I had to resuscitate one guy for almost an hour once. You know, a higher percentage of people here grow their own marijuana than probably anywhere. It's typically Czech: a do-it-yourself nation."

Selling or offering marijuana is illegal here, but the law is permeable, containing a passage that could have been lifted from a novel by Franz Kafka, the Prague-born chronicler of the absurd. It's OK to possess "no amount larger than a small amount," according to the statute. ...

"We want to legalize marijuana," said Dolezal, tapping on his coffee table to check the turtle. "But we can't sell it in cafes like in Amsterdam because we'd get all the unemployed Germans coming here. We don't want foreigners consuming marijuana in public. It could demean marijuana. We like the system where a friend gives it to, or sells it to, his friends."

Costing as little as $5 a gram, marijuana is cut and rolled throughout Czech society. "There's seven profiles of marijuana smokers: computer programmers, environmental activists, university students, teenagers, villagers in Moravia who now smoke joints instead of drinking plum brandy, reggae music listeners and 80-year-old ladies buying marijuana for their husbands who have Parkinson's and other illnesses," Titman said.

Across town, it's just after dusk when Dolezal settles into his chair and lights a joint the size of a cigarillo. The scent whirls, and he is happy. His dog hasn't budged on the bed. His turtle is half-submerged in the coffee table, where Dolezal has scattered pictures submitted to the magazine Reflex, which recently held a contest for the best photo of a marijuana plant.

"Look at these — beautiful," he says. "Plants are just like wines. You have darks and whites. The whites are most popular. The white widow, white shark, sweet tooth. Ahhh, the white widow is my favorite."
The article goes on to note there is a thriving market among the locals across the country. But it doesn't mention any associated organized crime problems. This being because they produce their own and share it. Apparently, the Czech enjoy more freedom than we do in the US. Cannabis is reported to be cultivated on balconies and in bathrooms all over Prague. You can't do that in America anymore.

The Bush administration has made marijuana its primary target in the war on drugs and for 40 years penalities have been increasing for its use. We have the highest incarceration rate, by far, in the world. We do have a problem with organized crime in the US marijuana market now, that wasn't present in the 60s when the plant was treated as casually as it is currently being treated in the Czech Republic.

The lesson is obvious. [hat tip JackL]


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