Members from the Dutch Liberal Democrats opened the world’s first MDMA shop on the morning of May 18, in the center of Amsterdam at Rosmarijnsteeg.
MDMA Shop Opens in Amsterdam
Amsterdam made history when the world’s first MDMA shop opened. MDMA, or methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, is an illicit substance that typically comes in pill form and produces effects that include a skewed interpretation of time and overall enhancement of pleasure.
The pills sold in the MDMA shop were not the actual substance, but were placebos, because the Netherlands prohibits MDMA by law. The store was intended only to be open for one day and the plan was called “MDMJA”. The title was formulated from the Dutch word for “Yes” (“Ja”: pronounced as “Yah”) and MDMA. The party needed 40,000 signatures by the end of the day to back up their stance, encouraging the legalization and regulation of MDMA.
The Liberal Democrats (D66), which is the mother party, has made several, similar attempts in the past, but has yet to succeed in their efforts to persuade the government.
Purpose of Harm Reduction
By selling placebo pills, the group hopes to demonstrate how regulated drug sales benefit society when compared to dangerous, illegal street sales. The president of the Young Democrats, Dirkjan Tijs, confidently stated, “We can prevent minors from buying, make sure there’s no overdose in pills and educate people on ways to minimize the risks involved with ecstasy involved with ecstasy-usage.”
The Young Democrats believe permitting the sale of MDMA will allow for harm reduction and minimize associated crimes. These members believe the substance’s purity and opportunity to be sold allows for greater likelihood of safety, and the potential to reshape society’s views on drug culture. In October 2014, three people died as a result of abusing MDMA they had purchased illegally off the street in Amsterdam. The Young Democrats feel having an MDMA shop can prevent deaths due to strict drug regulation.
The party also believes if recreational drugs like MDMA could be sold and regulated, then people would be able to purchase cleaner drugs and use them with caution. Annie Bleeker, who raises awareness for harm reduction, HIV/AIDS, alcohol, and drugs in several countries (extending all throughout Indonesia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Turkey, and the Netherlands), explained her agreement with the political party, that drugs should be emphasizing “know” instead of “no.”
In spite of the Young Democrats’ beliefs, the fact that MDMA is a dangerous and potent mind-altering substance cannot go ignored. Even if selling MDMA legally through a storefront was permittable, this doesn’t mean deaths would necessarily decrease. This could cause more people to begin abusing the drug that may have not originally sought out the drug in the first place. Only time will tell whether Amsterdam ends up getting the 40,000 required signatures, and if the Netherlands permits the country’s first MDMA shop to remain open.
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