|Intl. Notebook||Dec 2 2008|
The Dutch ban on mushroom sales, passed earlier this year, went into effect yesterday. The ban follows several highly publicized incidents involving mushroom usage, including the reckless joyride of a Danish tourist who careened through a public campground in his car, narrowly missing campers, and the death of 17-year old French girl who jumped from a bridge. Amsterdam’s city council hopes the new law will help change the international perception of the ’Dam as a sex, drugs and vice metropolis, but owners of “smart shops” where the fungi are sold say hundreds of jobs may be lost.
One shop worker complained in an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that the problems were all the fault of tourists, especially Brits, who misuse alcohol at home then come to Amsterdam and do the same with hash and mushrooms. While it is true that vacationing Brits are notorious for binge consumption, the reputation of Amsterdam was established long before anyone began complaining about the behavior of tourists. Only time will tell if the mushroom ban will make people stop thinking of the city as a place to buy drugs, but in the meantime tourists can get the same trippy feeling by staring hard at a Van Gogh.