Drug legalization main menu item at world’s first “ecstasy” store

Ecstasy shop - Young Democrats D66, Amsterdam
Inside the World's First Ecstasy Shop, put together by the Young Democrats. May 18, 2015.photo: Demid Getik / NL Times

Though they were not actually selling drugs of any sort, the "ecstasy shop" opened by the youth wing of D66 in the center of Amsterdam represents a model of what the organization thinks such a shop should look like. A Young Democrats activist stood firm at the door checking the age of the entrants. People behind the counter selling packages with little pills, actually colorful candy, gave out leaflets with information on usage, doses and side effects.

The purpose of the event was to inform people on the benefits of legalizing ecstasy, according to its organizers. "For most drugs offered now at parties, the quality is bad," said Maikel Kessing, a Young Democrats member. "We want to decrease that amount of bad drugs." "It is used quite a bit," said Hanna Hekkert, a spokesperson for the event when asked why the group is campaigning for ecstasy.

"Five hundred thousand people in the Netherlands admitted to having used it at least once," she added. "Hence we should have a policy on it. We need to regulate it." She also responded positively to the question whether Young Democrats wanted to legalize the production of the drug.

Yes, it should be fully legal," she replied. Similarly, the Young Democrats expressed interest in bringing more drugs within the legal framework. "Now there is no difference between hard and soft drugs. They are both illegal," Hekkert said.

"That is not reasonable." The activists do not want to focus entirely on Amsterdam. "We want ecstasy to be legalized nationally," a member of the movement said. "It is a nationwide campaign."

In the store, one could buy candy packages for prices ranging from four to seven euros. All money collected is earmarked for the Young Democrats' legalization campaign, called MDMJa, a play on words mixing the active chemical in ecstasy, MDMA, and the Dutch word for yes, "ja." The event seemed to mainly attract an international audience of tourists wandering into the area on an early Monday afternoon.

"Lot of foreigners today. People keep coming in," an event organizer commented. "Although Dutch are also attending."

Another group that demonstrated interest in the event in its early hours were journalists. After the opening they constituted a majority of visitors inside the shop. Several of the attending journalists represented foreign media. Attendance of local residents was quite significant for the group that used the event to gather signatures for their legalization petition.

For the petition to be considered by the parliament, the activists need 40,000 signatories. "We had three thousand in the morning," Hekkert commented on the progress. "It would be nice to get a few thousand more today."