I stopped on my way to work on Friday to buy Reflex. The newsagent’s next to my tram stop is a little hole in the wall, where even I have to hunch down a bit to talk to the woman through the window. When she handed me the magazine, I started to laugh. It came in a plastic wrapper, which was necessary to contain the gift that came with this week’s issue – a joint tube. Yes, file this story under “only in the Czech Republic”.
Reflex is not a smokers’ magazine, it is a weekly for news, politics and social commentary. But this week’s issue features the Cannabis Cup 2006. The Cup is an annual competition, now in its third year, for which readers send in photographs of their cannabis plants to be judged in four different categories. The categories are indoor and outdoor, which examine the quality of the plants, and beauty and ikebana, which are about aesthetics. The text for the article was written by Jiří X. Doležal, who is a popular and controversial fixture at the magazine.
The magazine received over 1400 photographs for this year’s Cup. You can see a few of the photographs in the abbreviated online article here (go down to the bottom for the 1st place in ikebana).
Czechs smoke a lot of dope. According to statistics for 2004 quoted in the Reflex article, whilst on average 12% of Europeans smoked marijuana at that time, the figure in Czech was 23%. Take that, Amsterdam. And moreover, Jiří X. Doležal points out, the number of “problem users of hard drugs” in Czech has been steadily falling since 2000. These statistics suggest that, contrary to popular belief, smoking marijuana does not lead to the use of harder drugs.
In case you are wondering, marijuana is mostly legal in the Czech Republic. You can grow it, you can possess it and you can smoke it, as long as the quantity you have is not “more than a small amount” for personal use. I believe that the Czech Republic is the only country in the world where this is the case. In spite of what many people think they know, marijuana is not legal in the Netherlands, it is merely tolerated.
Here is a good letter that I just randomly found – it has some strong arguments for adopting Czech-style drug legislation in the The New Amerika.