Friday, December 19, 2008

City of Biggs Adopts New Rule for Medical Pot

City of Biggs Adopts New Rule for Medical Pot

Posted on December 19, 2008

by kpayeditor

The City of Biggs is taking a note from its sister city Gridley in adopting a strict marijuana cultivation law. The city recently adopted an ordinance that declares the sight and smell of marijuana to be a public nuisance. City Administrator Pete Carr says basically, medical marijuana growers will now have to grow their pot inside. Gridley passed a similar ordinance, but also restricted the number of indoor pot plants that can be grown.

Marijuana advocate acquitted

Staff Writer


SKOWHEGAN -- Longtime marijuana advocate Donald Christen was acquitted Thursday in Superior Court on cultivation and furnishing charges, convincing a jury that his pot is for medical purposes.

The verdict could have far-reaching effects on both sides of the medical marijuana issue in Maine, his lawyer, Walter McKee of Augusta, said.

"We had raised the affirmative defense that the marijuana being cultivated or being furnished was medical marijuana," McKee said Thursday afternoon. "Don acknowledged that he cultivated marijuana and he acknowledged that he possessed it with the intent to furnish it, but indicated that what he was cultivating and what he had possessed with the intent to furnish was medical marijuana, for one patient in particular."

Citing the state's medical marijuana law passed nearly a decade ago, Justice William Anderson told jurors that Christen, organizer of the annual Hempstock festivals and founder of Maine Vocals, met the criteria for medical marijuana under the statute, McKee said.

McKee said the case could set a precedent in Maine, where medical marijuana legislation was brought by citizen initiative in 1999.

"I think it's precedent setting in that it's the first case that I'm aware of that went to trial in which the affirmative defense was raised," he said. "It's the first I've heard of and I've certainly been around the mill."

McKee said an affirmative defense is something the defendant -- not the state -- has to prove.

McKee is a past president and a current member of the board of the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

He called the verdict a victory for medical marijuana advocates in Maine.

"I think it really is because one of the big issues at trial was whether Don had the appropriate documentation and the court allowed the documentation to be presented to the jury and the jury obviously approved it," he said. "You don't get to do medical marijuana unless there's actual medical authorization. The statue is very narrow in term of people who can use it."

Christen, 55, of Madison, faced a possible five years in prison had he been convicted on the felony charge of aggravated furnishing. He was charged additionally with aggravated cultivation, both stemming from his arrest in October 2007.

The charges were aggravated because of Christen's previous marijuana charges.

The medical patient for whom the marijuana is being cultivated is Carroll Cummings, 58, of Vassalboro. Cummings said Thursday he suffers from torticollis, or spasms of the neck and shoulder muscles.

"I wouldn't be able to get by without," he said. "It's a victory for me, it's a victory for every medical patient in this state."

Under Maine law, someone can legally cultivate, distribute or possess marijuana for medical use if specified medical conditions exist, a point with which District Attorney Evert Fowle takes issue.

"We certainly were disappointed with the verdict, but we certainly accept the verdict of the jury," Fowle said. "I think the medical marijuana defense has been used before; this is the first time that I recall it being successful.

"This whole medical marijuana law; we need to go back to the drawing board. We need to first have a discussion as to whether there is any medical viability of marijuana."

He said the medical viability of marijuana has not been proven. Most medical professionals, Fowle said, say there is very little medical viability for marijuana compared to other available treatments.

Fowle said there also is a "friction" between state of Maine law and federal law which lists marijuana as a Level One substance, or among the most serious and dangerous drugs.

"I think it's past time that the law be completely overhauled and that we go back to the drawing board," he said.

There is no appeal available to the state in criminal cases. The jury's verdict is final, Fowle said.

Contacted Thursday afternoon, Christen said he has been working on medical marijuana issues for many years and his efforts finally have paid off.

"This is a big victory -- it's going to mean a lot for everybody in the state of Maine, not just me," Christen said. "Now that we've got the win through the jury that means we have now broken the way through so we know exactly how to do it.

"This is the first of its kind here in the state and we're really excited about it. We will be able to help others to be able to go to court to assert the affirmative defense so everybody can use this now."

Doug Harlow -- 474-9534 ext. 342

City Council favors medical marijuana dispensaries

December 19, 2008

Special to the Sun
Sierra Jenkins
Medical marijuana may soon be another product you can buy locally – if you have a permit, that is.

At Wednesday's meeting, the Sonoma City Council took further steps toward setting up a licensing system that would allow a medical marijuana dispensary to open in Sonoma. The license would be a one-year permit, renewable upon verification of compliance and revocable at any moment if holder is non-compliant. Dispensaries could not be located within 100 feet of single-family residences, schools and parks. Growing or consuming marijuana on-site would be prohibited and the city would have the authority to do a third-party audit.

The council voted 4-1 for the city staff to move forward, with councilmember August Sebastiani against the measure.

Qualified patients can currently legally grow the plants within the city, according to state law. However, many patients don't necessarily have the know-how so many patients currently drive to Santa Rosa or San Francisco for their prescriptions.

Sonoma resident Rosalee Jalo, who was diagnosed with lyme disease in 1992, asked council to make dispensaries available in the city. "I've tried many medicines, all had side-affects," said Jalo. "I have to drive 45 minutes when I'm feeling very ill. It's a great burden for me."

John Sugg, who has operated a dispensary in Santa Rosa for the past three years, said he had many customers driving from Sonoma. "There's all this driving back and forth that could be prevented. It would be a green solution," he said.

A local lawyer who served on the Sonoma County Task Force on the Regulation of Medical Marijuana, vouched for the safety of the facilities. "The largest dispensary north of San Francisco is located in Santa Rosa. In three years, there was not a single call for law enforcement around it. The oldest dispensary, operating for niine years in Guerneville, just three occasions has law enforcement been called, in contrast to a saloon down the street which averages 41 calls a year."

The council first took up the dispensary issue in 2007 and subsequently voted 4-1 to develop a work project to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to be established in Sonoma. California began to allow the legal use of marijuana for medical uses in 1996 when voters passed Prop 215. Locals can currently obtain medical marijuana in Santa Rosa and Cotati.
City planner David Goodison said that the police chief and the city prosecutor are against allowing dispensaries, concerned about the potential abuse of the system and some safety issues that had been occasionally reported in other communities such as DUIs and loitering.

August Sebastiani was the only councilmember in disagreement with moving forward. "It is not a debate over the effectiveness of the medicinal properties. My heart goes out to those folks for whom this is their only alternative," said Sebastiani. "There are at the same time recreational uses, and I worry that allowing medical marijuana dispensaries sends a message to those recreational users that this drug might be more available and less dangerous recreationally speaking than it actually is. I certainly feel that way with my own children."

The city staff will move ahead on defining the licensing process to be brought before the council again at a later date.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Portland grower sweeps the Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards with "Lemon Pledge," "Train Wreck" and "Dynamite."


A very mellow gathering of 100 medical-marijuana users got some delicious news at the seventh annual Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards on Saturday night.

"Apparently, the weed keeps getting better and better," announced Russ Belville, associate director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' Oregon branch.

Belville based his statement on the scores this year's 27 entries received from a lucky pool of 28 judges who are medical marijuana patients. Each judge got a gram of each type to sample over six weeks, and rate on appearance, taste, aroma, potency, smoothness and medicinal effect.

This year's top entry received an 80 percent score. Last year's winner, 78.8 percent.

The crowd—many of whom made trips throughout the night to a courtyard set up outside the Ambridge Events Center in Northeast Portland for medical-marijuana cardholders to smoke and vaporize their stash—erupted in applause.

Paul Stanford, head of a Portland-based national chain of medical-marijuana clinics called THC Foundation (see "King Bong," WW, Dec. 12, 2007), dominated this year's awards. Stanford collected first, second and third prize for his Lemon Pledge, Train Wreck and Dynamite strains.

Stanford, who in past cannabis contests has never broken into the top three, chalked the victory up to better tilling in his outer East Portland garden. "We did a lot better job mixing our dirt this year," he told WW after collecting his glass trophies and ribbons.

David Verstoppen, the legendary Eastern Oregon grower who's won the past three years and fell victim to a violent attempted weed heist (see "High-Jacked," WW, Nov. 12, 2008), had to settle for an honorable mention in the "best aroma" category for his Medicine Woman strain.

"This man is living proof that you can't keep a good man down," Belville told the crowd as Verstoppen took his ribbon after making the five-hour drive from Long Creek.

The highlights of the evening were the cake table (chocolate, custard or organic carrot) and the keynote address by Allen St. Pierre, head of NORML's national office in Washington, D.C. He called for legalization as a matter of "cognitive liberty."

"Of course we want to get high. This is self-evident. But we can get plenty high under prohibition," St. Pierre said. "There's no moral reason why you shouldn't have access to this incredible plant."

St. Pierre bemoaned what he called the "Balkanization" of the marijuana movement, with hemp advocates, medical patients, pot decriminalizers and hard-drug legalizers all staking out territory.

He noted a new phenomenon where retiring baby boomers are returning to their youthful pastimes, including marijuana use, and contributing more money to NORML. But he also said the organization needs new ways of reaching out.

"What if we had marijuana dating services?" he asked. "How many of us are with our spouse or partner because of the commonality of cannabis?"

FACT: NORML's Allen St. Pierre hinted he may move the group's office to the West Coast, on the friendly side of America's "marijuana Maginot Line." He said Portland is high on the list of possible homes. One audience member promised plenty of "green office space."

DHS bans medical marijuana dispensaries

Marcel Honore • The Desert Sun • December 16, 2008

Desert Hot Springs tonight became the fifth city in the Coachella Valley to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

The City Council voted 4-1 to ban the dispensaries, with Councilman Karl Baker dissenting.

The city's moratorium expires in February, and the ban will take effect 30 days after a second reading in January, City Attorney Ruben Duran said.

Several on council said they worried a medical marijuana cooperative or collective would strain an understaffed city police department that has its hands full with crime.

"We're right now in reactive mode with our police department," Mayor Yvonne Parks said before the vote. "We have not gotten to the point where we can be proactive."

Baker took a different view. "We've heard all these stories how this is going to be a drain on police department" but none are supported by fact, he said. Baker also criticized Duran for the staff report recommending the ban.

"I am very, very disturbed … that someone with a legal background presents something that is so heavily weighted one way," he said.

Lanny Swerdlow, president of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, implored the council not to pass the ban. No one spoke in favor Tuesday.

Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta and Palm Desert have banned dispensaries. Riverside County also has a ban in force for unincorporated areas.

Palm Springs passed a moratorium on dispensaries in March 2006 but allowed it to expire earlier this year. Coachella has an active moratorium.

Later in the meeting, a 4-1 vote kept Gabriel King on the Planning Commission. Baker and Councilman Al Schmidt proposed the discussion after comments King made at last week's commission meeting on a proposed Art in Public Places program.

"The Building Industry Association has the right" to lobby for a cheaper arts program, King said Dec. 9, but local citizens "don't have the tool of paid lobbyists or the promise of future campaign contributions to affect the vote."

Schmidt, Baker and Parks said the comments crossed the line and implied council members were "on the take," as Baker put it.

King did not attend the meeting. Baker said he would not vote to oust King and called Tuesday's discussion a warning.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Obama sends mixed messages on marijuana

By Peter Schrag

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 09, 2008 | Page 19A

There were moments not so long ago when Barack Obama was signaling that he
was ready to end the costly and pointless federal raids on medical marijuana
users and their caretakers. In the past few years, those raids have hit
Californians particularly hard.

"The Justice Department going after sick individuals using this as a
palliative instead of going after serious criminals makes no sense," he said
in New Hampshire last year. In 2004, he seemed to favor the
decriminalization of pot altogether.

On the day Obama was elected, voters in Michigan, by a 63-37 margin, put
their state in the ranks of the 12 others that have passed medical marijuana
laws since California broke the ice in 1996. On the same day, Massachusetts
voters approved a measure that decriminalized possession of small amounts of
pot altogether. Both votes should have helped Obama to get off the fence.
But recent reports that Obama was considering Rep. Jim Ramstad, a moderate
Minnesota Republican who's retiring from Congress, for the post of White
House drug czar, send a very different message.

Ramstad, a recovering alcoholic, has been cheered as the sponsor of laws
requiring insurers to cover drug treatment and mental health services. But
he also voted for federal funding bans on needle exchanges and strongly
opposed measures to stop federal arrests of medical marijuana patients in
states like California where its use is legal.

There are reasons for Obama, like many other politicians, to be skittish
about the issue. He's acknowledged drug use in his past. He doesn't want to
trip on the matter when he has countless tougher things to deal with in his
first years in office.

But since millions of Americans are beginning to understand that the pursuit
of medical marijuana patients, and maybe much of the rest of the drug war,
is and has long been a self-defeating exercise, maybe it's time for a little
hard rethinking.

The biggest beneficiaries of the drug war are the criminal cartels that
process, import and market the stuff, the terrorists who tax it, and the
multibillion-dollar narcotics repression machinery that for 70 years has
always been its biggest advocate.

Last week the nation marked the 75th anniversary of the repeal of
Prohibition, another misbegotten experiment in social sanitation whose
greatest legatees were the organized crime syndicates that began operations
as bootleggers in the 1920s.

What became the federal law that effectively outlawed marijuana was enacted
in 1937, four years after Prohibition ended. Credit that to two men. One was
Harry Anslinger, who, as head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, was
building his empire. The other was newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst,
whose paper mills were competing for pulp sales with hemp growers in Mexico.

The message was the threat of "reefer madness," a fabricated myth echoed by
Hollywood and other papers that pot drove users to rape, murder and mayhem.
Worse, it was a Mexican drug (also used by blacks, jazz musicians and other
disreputable people). It became an additional weapon in the 1930s campaign
to deport and exclude Mexicans.

Congress acted on marijuana a generation after the first state outlawed the
drug. That state was Utah, from which some Mormons had moved to northwest
Mexico after their church banned polygamy. When their hopes for their
Mexican settlements didn't pan out, many returned in 1914-15, bringing
cannabis back with them. The church quickly banned it as against the Mormon
religion, and the Utah Legislature quickly followed.

According to the FBI's latest crime report, among the nation's 1.8 million
drug busts in 2007 were 775,000 for simple possession of marijuana for
personal use. That 1.8 million is roughly triple the number of arrests for
violent crime. Fewer than 20 percent of the arrests were for sales or

Drug control isn't a simple issue: Drug policies in Europe vary all over the
lot, although none is as punitive as ours. Last week, the Swiss approved the
indefinite extension of that nation's medically supervised heroin
administration program, created to get addicts off the streets, while at the
same time rejecting a proposal to decriminalize marijuana. The Swiss like
neat streets.

But what reformers call "harm reduction" – meaning reducing all harm – is
assuredly a better course than criminalizing everything.

Where does a good society draw the lines between personal responsibility,
treatment of addicts, and rigid criminal sanctions? How willing are we to
disrupt productive lives and families, how much are we willing to pay for
what benefit? How much could drug-related crime be reduced with smarter
policies? With the exception of the drug control establishment, how many of
us believe that we have a successful cost-efficient system that should be
left as it is? Californians, along with the other medical marijuana states,
have taken a little leadership. The least the feds could do now is leave us

Michigan Medical Marihuana Program

The MMMP is not currently operational. As required by state law, the program will be fully operational on April 4, 2009 (within 120 days from December 4, 2008). Please refer to this website for periodic program information updates and announcements regarding the date on which the program will be fully operational.

Weekly Program Status Update (12/8/2008) : The Bureau of Health Professions is currently processing administrative rules (proposed rules posted 12/8/2008, see below) for the program and developing program forms. This website currently contains some program information, and will be complete on or before April 4, 2009.,1607,7-132-27417_51869---,00.html

Monday, December 8, 2008


Off the coast of Baja California, a Coast Guard cutter seized 137
bales of marijuana two weeks ago as they were being dumped by the
crew of a speed boat.

In San Francisco there are more registered pot clubs than middle
schools, police stations or Taco Bells, according to the federal government.

And in Sacramento, state and federal officials recently announced the
eradication of 2.9 million marijuana plants being grown around
California. They said it was a record haul.

So, against that backdrop, how sharply does law enforcement focus on
arresting marijuana users? "We don't," said Sacramento County Sheriff
John McGinness.

For years, personal marijuana use hasn't been a priority for local
law enforcement. Authorities say someone caught with a joint may face
a penalty equal to a traffic citation.

But battles over marijuana have never seemed hotter, and proponents
of legalizing the plant say they hope the incoming Barack Obama
administration will look more kindly on that notion, or at least stop
federal raids of medical marijuana providers.

"I think we're entering a new era now, and I think we're going to see
the culture is going to be changing," said Dale Gieringer, California
director for NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws. "Since the 1980s there's been a very retro social
climate like the '50s, but I suspect that things are going to open up.

"If people take a good, serious look at what the war on pot is
costing, they're going to figure out it's a losing proposition for
the taxpayers," Gieringer added. "It makes more sense to tax and
regulate marijuana legally than it does to pay taxes to criminalize
people and put them in jail." This is not a new argument, and
Gieringer realizes politicians in Washington are focused more on
issues such as the economy and war than on marijuana legislation.

Yet there is no denying marijuana use remains a national issue. In
November, voters decriminalized it in Massachusetts. And Michigan
voters overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana, the 13th state to do so.

Those votes, however, do not mean smooth sailing for proponents of
decriminalized marijuana use.

California has approved medical marijuana and a reduction in
penalties for personal use of small amounts.

But despite Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in
1996, the federal government still considers such use illegal.
Federal agents have cracked down on growers who say they are simply
providing the drug for people with a certified medical need.

Modesto in the Spotlight

Last month U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott announced the sentencing of
two Modesto men convicted of using medical marijuana laws to conceal
a major pot-selling business.

Luke Scarmazzo was sentenced to 21 years and eight months in prison,
and Ricardo Ruiz Montes was given 20 years for what authorities said
was a business that generated more than $9 million.

Last month, the California Supreme Court also restricted elements of
the state's medical marijuana law with a ruling limiting who can
supply marijuana to patients.

That decision resulted from the case of a Santa Cruz County man
charged with cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale. He
came to authorities' attention after a bank teller noticed cash he
was depositing smelled heavily of marijuana.

According to court records, Roger Mentch told sheriff's detectives
the marijuana plants they found in his house were for medical
purposes, that he used the drug, and that he provided it to five
other medical marijuana users.

The court ruled Mentch had no right to use a defense that he was a
"primary caregiver" to the five patients because his care "consisted
principally of supplying marijuana and instructing on its use."

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has worked to
ridicule the growth of medical marijuana in California, noting in a
recent press release that there are 24 registered pot clubs in San
Francisco but only 14 middle schools, 14 police stations and 18 Taco
Bell franchises.

Authorities say medical marijuana often is the excuse from those
caught using the drug. Last month at California State University,
Sacramento, a student smoking pot in his dorm room was cited, despite
his claim it was medicinal.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dynamic Outlines Initial Target Markets for Pharmaceutical Cannabinoid Products

Last update: 6:58 p.m. EST Dec. 5, 2008

PALM SPRINGS, Calif., Dec 05, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Dynamic Alert Limited is pleased to announce that it has now identified its target markets for its pharmaceutical product line-up. The modalities will include a lozenge with some capacity for enhancing rapid onset through oromucosal absorption, topical applications, such as lotions and salves, and various products for internal use. Some products will have specific uses, while others may treat a range of problems. In keeping with both the historic medical uses of cannabis and the new scientific understanding of how cannabinoids work, Dynamic's cannabinoid pharmaceuticals will be targeting a wide-variety of serious needs such as:

1. Neuro-muscular disorders, such as MS.

2. Neuropathic pain, related to spinal cord injuries, as well as
conditions such as AIDS/HIV and the side-effects of its medications,
etc. for which opiates are not very effective.

3. Chronic pain, to reduce or eliminate patients' dependence on opiates.

4. Respiratory inflammation, related to both infections such as influenza
and to autoimmune diseases such as asthma.

5. Cancer, including pain management, control of nausea resulting from
chemotherapy as well as loss of appetite related to the disease itself.

6. Also control of cancer in conditions such as Pheochromocytoma.

7. Digestive illnesses, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERDS),
Crohn's Disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

8. Dermatological infections, such as MRSA (flesh eating disease).

9. Sleep disorders.

President & CEO, Richard Cowan, states, "We are certainly pleased at the speed in which our business model is rolling out. The potential market size for some of these products is obviously very large. When multiplied by the various categories and compounded by multiple country rollouts, we are certainly undertaking a major pharmaceutical venture. Our success will be determined by the successes of our patients. Our strategy for success includes increasing the speed of bringing each product to market by using a multi-pronged approach. It is important to bear in mind that our ability to receive licensing fees for the various products will not have to wait on approval for use. Moreover, conventional measures of the various pharmaceutical markets do not offer a fair measure of the potential for cannabis-based medicines. For example, the huge cost of treating diseases such as MRSA is not measured by the cost of specific pharmaceuticals. Moreover, there is no simple metric for the value of reducing a patient's need for debilitating opiates. Consequently, we are extremely excited to bring such important medical advances to the people who need them most."

In each of these areas, cannabis has been proven to work, so Dynamic will have targeted formulations, which the Company plans to release via one or more of the four types of pharmaceutical product categories targeted:

1. Possible over-the-counter Pharmaceutical Products:

a) Non-Prescription Drugs (With disease specific claims)

b) Nutraceuticals (No disease specific claims)

2. Possible Prescription Pharmaceutical Medications:

a) Psychoactive Medications

b) Non-Psychoactive Medications

Director and Chief Science Officer, Dr. Robert Melamede, stated, "There is an enormous need for these products. Recent advances in science have opened the door to develop, produce, and commercialize a variety of effective whole plant cannabinoid-based pharmaceutical products with a wide variety of important applications. Although cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, until very recently little was known about how it actually worked. Our team of scientists will develop more effective ways to produce and commercialize the production of whole plant cannabinoid-based pharmaceutical products. Even today new uses for cannabis are being found, such as the recent discovery that topical cannabis preparations can be effective against MRSA, the deadly antibiotic-resistant flesh-eating disease."

You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements in this press release.

This press release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Words such as "will," "anticipates," "believes," "plans," "goal," "expects," "future," "intends" and similar expressions are used to identify these forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements for many reasons, including the risks we face as described in this press release.

SOURCE Dynamic Alert Limited

Amsterdam to Close Many Brothels, Marijuana Cafe

December 6, 2008

Amsterdam to Close Many Brothels, Marijuana Cafes

Filed at 5:13 a.m. ET

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- Amsterdam unveiled plans Saturday to shutter up to half of its famed brothels and marijuana cafes as part of a major cleanup of its ancient city center.

The city says it wants to drive organized crime out of the neighborhood, and is targeting businesses that ''generate criminality,'' including prostitution, gambling parlors, ''smart shops'' that sell herbal treatments, head shops and ''coffee shops'' where marijuana is sold openly.

''By reduction and zoning of these kinds of functions, we will be able to manage better and tackle the criminal infrastructure,'' the city said in a statement.

It said it would also reduce a number of business it sees as related to the ''decay'' of the center, including peep shows, sex shows, sex shops, mini supermarkets, massage parlors and souvenir shops.

The city said there were too many of these and it believes some are used for money-laundering by drug dealers and the human traffickers who supply many of the city's prostitutes.

Under the plan announced Saturday, Amsterdam will spend euro30-euro40 million ($38-$51 million) to bring hotels, restaurants, cultural organizations and boutiques to the center. It will also build new underground parking areas for cars and bikes and may use some of the vacated buildings to ease a housing shortage.

Amsterdam already had plans to close many brothels and said last month it might close some coffee shops throughout the city, but the plans announced Saturday go much further.

The city said it would offer retraining to prostitutes and coffee shop employees who will lose their jobs as a result of the plan.

Prostitution, which has spread into several areas of the center, will be allowed only in two areas -- notably De Wallen (''The Walls''), a web of streets and alleys around the city's medieval retaining dam walls. The area has been a center of prostitution since before the city's golden shipping age in the 1600s.

Prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in 2000, formalizing a long-standing tolerance policy.

Marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but prosecutors won't press charges for possession of small amounts and the coffee shops are able to sell it openly.