Autumn 2004

Dope cards from Amsterdam

The image of Holland has switched from tulips to hemp in one generation

‘Okay man’ says the man by the cash register, ‘you’re buying a lot of these postcards. You know, they are €1.25 a piece, but I make you a special deal. You get them for €1 a piece. You like that?’ ‘Sure’, I reply. ‘Okay man, let me see, one, two, three …’ counting on till 24 cards. ‘Eh, 24 multiplied by €1 makes, let me see …’ (pressing the buttons of a calculator) ‘… makes your total €24. OK man, because remember the special deal?’

The special deal over here is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short, the effective parts of the plant Cannabis Sativa ending up in marijuana and hashish. When inhaled and under the spell of these magic molecules your senses become more receptive – it makes some aspects of life feel better than ever, doing them over and over again. Other things which were once easy, like adding up, subtracting and multiplying, become much harder. ‘You don’t get high on your own supply,’ was the wise remark of an Amsterdam dope-dealer talking about a colleague whose business went down.

Looking at my new cards, I can see the image of my country has switched from tulips to hemp in a generation. I give the man a €50 note. Not to burden his high head I tell him: ‘The change will be €26.’

‘Okay man’, he says.

Chris H. Vermaas, designer, Amsterdam

First published in Eye no. 53 vol. 14, 2004

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