Thursday, 3 July 2008

Holy Smoke.

I am assuming this was not an official Guinness Book attempt!

The scene up and down the land.

And you're next.

This has been an interesting year in the wonderful world of smoke. The European Union tobacco smoking ban is rolling out across the Union and hordes of people are giving up. So far, it's all been a great success. Apparently and, at least, until today. We Brits have caved in and stopped, even your scribe has put his tobacco down for good, finding it no fun whatsoever standing outside a pub in the rain trying to smoke a cigar. The French stubbed out not only their Gitanes but the memory of Proust, Dali and Camus, as well as their liberty overnight and the Germans even managed to take a step towards the future by accepting a smoking ban which touched many heartstrings as it was last attempted by Hitler, who was a rabid anti-smoker. Some of the peripheral new member states in the East of Europe still have a couple of years before they ban it as well, although Poland, that most keen smoking nation was already taking steps to impose a voluntary ban when I went a few months back.

Today, however, is another matter entirely and it proves to be most interesting. Holland is giving up smoking. So what, I hear you ask, so what for Holland, with their rubbery cheeses and their wooden shoes? I thought this blog was about the Church, not round faced mustachioed dwarfs and their inability to make tasty cheese! Quite so, but this is interesting and has ecclesiastical consequences, so stay tuned. Today Holland is the last of the 'old' member states to impose the ban (yes, get on with it) and of course there is a tiny glitch in Dutch law which will need attention. Sure, the bars from this evening will collect in their ashtrays, for tobacco smoking is now illegal but what of cannabis? As you may know, cannabis is legal in Holland and there are bars in Amsterdam devoted just to the pursuit of the smoking of it. Now, there is no tobacco being smoked there, from today, but simply cannabis will be smoked and be within the law of Holland. This raises the question of why the law was implemented in the first place, to protect the staff (which always struck me as a feeble excuse anyway, but no one asks me) but what will be done?

Well, nothing can be done as cannabis is illegal in every other EU country so the EU cannot legislate for it not to be smoked in certain places as it is de facto illegal anyway and the Dutch Government has made it clear that it, too, will not be pushing for it's criminalisation. Therefore the only way for the EU to ban people smoking pot in Holland is to legalise it throughout the whole EU and then ban it's public consumption, then ban it completely, but only after it has been legal for as many months or years as it takes to change the law again. Of course, Holland will probably be pushed on to change the law of it's own accord and may well, indeed probably will, cave in.

Now, I hold no interest for cannabis consumption, although it is statistically far less harmful than tobacco or alcohol for example and I have no wish to see the streets full of stoned youths and confused grannies trying to relieve the pain of their ailments and looking for late night kebabs but I am interested in the liberty of countries to pass their own laws without being bullied by the EU at every turn. This will be a test case, I think, of what will happen when the EU comes up against a barrier to their plan of turning us all into automated droids.

But hold on another minute again. If Holland do not capitulate (and lets face it, they are hardly likely to gain much foreign support for their stance, it's hardly as though they are the lone freedom fighters working for a better future, they just want a joint now and again), then plan two comes into place. The EU will consider banning all forms of the indoor burning of resins and plant products (apart from fires laid in a ventilated chimney). Now you know what that means don't you Wanderers? Yes, an end to incense, that most resinous of burnt resins. It will not come to that, of course, but I wonder if the EU did not have a plan all along, that in the banning of smoking for 'health' reasons, the by product would not be the subjugation of the nations by default? That there were so many potential fallouts, all of them dispensable to the majority, they could use those issues as leverage in the plan for total standardisation of the EU. Maybe, maybe not. But it's better than reading another rant about GAFCON, isn't it?