That Time in Amsterdam ... - OZY | A Modern Media Company

That Time in Amsterdam ...

That Time in Amsterdam ...

By Eugene S. Robinson

The ebb and flow of drug trends wasn’t first and foremost on our minds when, in the streets of Amsterdam, we were accosted by someone selling weed. Jokingly, we said, “No thanks. But now, see, if you had some crack,” to which he replied, ”You know, we tried to sell crack here…”

So we asked him why there weren’t more drug dealers like himself attempting to sell crack, not only there in Amsterdam, but all over Europe.

“At first, we gave it a very low price. But: nothing. No one here likes that type of high,” he said, waving his hands by his head and rolling his eyes. “No one other than Americans. And Brits.”

And in Camden, London, a few weeks later, as soon as the sun had started to dip, we saw something we hadn’t seen for years in America: crackheads. Flitting hither and yon on “runs,” with that same sort of skittering, jittery edge that anyone in New York during its Great Crack Epidemic might remember. From either end of the crackpipe.

Which raises a curious question: What’s driving drug fashion?

It can’t just be availablity, because crack can’t be any less difficult to make now than it was before. It can’t be sentencing laws, since habitual drug users seem to care as much about punishments connected to drug use as they do about the redirection of their personal finances away from food and shelter and toward their daily fix. We won’t blame art, but we will use it as a lens for tracking what’s been in and what’s been out of habit.


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