May 29, 2003

Cannabis Cafes

Talk Left reports on the upcoming ban on workplace smoking in the Netherlands and its impact on the Dutch cannabis cafes. From Reuters:

Dutch "coffee shops" famous for selling marijuana could see business go up in smoke, as it seems the drug will be included in an upcoming ban on workplace smoking.
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This is an interesting question even if we leave out the cannabis aspect. It seems pretty clear that both first and second hand smoke are not healthy. It also seems reasonable that at least in the US (and probably many other 'educated' countries including the Netherlands) there is no excuse for someone to claim that they do not know the potential health impacts. So long as people are informed of the dangers I can not make a case for criminalizing individual smoking (though every penny of subsidy that goes to tobacco growers should be stopped yesterday).

But what about second hand smoke? Given that it is dangerous I suggest that it is reasonable to impose some restrictions on this. For instance, smoking should not be allowed any public place where the smoke can not easily be prevented from assaulting non-smokers. Sidewalks, malls, etc., come to mind.

Should this be extended, for instance, to restaurants and bars? I think not. Except at the owners option. It is pretty easy to label an establishment as smoking or non-smoking. If your cafe is labeled as smoking allowed I can make an informed decision whether I want to enter and I can make an informed decision whether I want to work there. There does not appear to be any need for government intervention.

Businesses need to make a choice: smoking or non-smoking. Customers and employees alike can make a decision to stay or go. I suspect that most businesses (but not the cannabis cafes) will opt over time for non-smoking simply because everything becomes cleaner, medical insurance costs should be quite a bit lower and, oh yes, non-smokers will have already passed the first aspect of employment screening: demonstrated ability to assimilate information and make rational decisions. (Hmmmm, I wonder whether the time spent at the Dutch cannabis cafe counts.)

Posted by Steve on May 29, 2003
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