Smoke-free 'coffee shops' in Amsterdam?
MARK AUSTIN THOMAS:In the Netherlands, it appears the government will ban smoking in restaurants and cafes starting next year. I mean tobacco smoking — but in Amsterdam, tobacco is mixed with other things at certain cafes.
Our reporter Rico Gagliano joins us from the red light district of Amsterdam. Rico, how is this going to affect the cafes?
RICO GAGLIANO:Well, the law is designed to protect the employees of the coffee shops. And that's what we're talking about here, they're called "coffee shops" in English — that's how you can identify a place where you want to smoke marijuana. Essentially, what a coffee shop would look like, if this thing were to go into effect, would be you'd walk in, and there would be a sort of booth area where you would buy the marijuana. And then you'd be allowed, say, behind a glass partition, and you could smoke it behind the glass partition — but nobody would be allowed to come in there to serve you.
THOMAS:Now, you've been in to a couple of these places, I gather?
GAGLIANO:Uh, yeah. But make no mistake, I'm high on life.
THOMAS:OK, thank you for clarifying. But what are people saying about this?
GAGLIANO:I talked to a couple — a young man and woman from Wales — and they said that if this were to go into effect that they wouldn't like it as much, that it would ruin the atmosphere. And then I asked them how it would ruin it, and they looked confused and didn't say anything for a while. And then I remembered I was interviewing two people who were high on marijuana.
I also went in to talk to the mananger of the High Times coffee shop. He seemed to believe that not too many people are worried about it... It's an idea that's been kicked around for many years and people have wondered how the smoking ban would affect shops. And the gentleman I spoke to at the High Times coffee shop felt that the government makes too much money off of taxes to do anything that would really cripple this industry.
THOMAS:OK, Rico Gagliano in Amsterdam... Thanks.
GAGLIANO:Thanks a lot.