Canadians had barely enjoyed legal marijuana for even a fortnight when they received high-level advice against using it, from the unlikeliest of people: the prime minister of the Netherlands.
Mark Ruttes warnings came on his Thursday visit to Canada, just over a week after its much-anticipated cannabis legalization. He and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau were talking pot use in front of a young audience in Ottawa.
The best policy on drugs for yourself is 'no first use.' It sounds conservative, but I would urge you: Don't try at all.
That, coming from the prime minister of a country where buying and using marijuana in designated spaces has been legal for over 40 years. Many of Amsterdam's five million annual tourists specifically flock to its "coffee shops" to spark up or eat pot edibles without fearing the long arm of the law.
Naturally, young Canadians were interested in Rutte's experience – but didn't get the endorsement they perhaps expected. One of the problems with today's cannabis is that it's "so much stronger than when we were young," Rutte said. He then mentioned his friends' children who were having mental health problems from its use.
“At least make sure that you don't move from this stuff to other drugs,” Rutte added, perhaps acknowledging that his advice may fall on deaf ears.
Canada is only the second country after Uruguay, and the first of the G20 countries, to fully legalize the growing, selling, and consumption of cannabis, with Trudeau saying the laws removed the “contact that people had with criminals.”
Despite his misgivings about cannabis use, Rutte said the Netherlands too were looking at potential reforms to their own laws, saying coffee shops now have no way of getting the product legally. He added a pilot project was now underway in 10 Dutch cities to fix that.
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