Imagine stepping up to the counter at your local cafe and ordering off of a menu that includes White Widow, Hash Plant Haze and Master Kush. Government-regulated marijuana dispensaries aren’t just in your dreams; they’re also in Amsterdam, and I was fortunate enough to spend the 2002-03 school year studying abroad in this amazing and progressive city in Holland.

Throughout my 10 months in Amsterdam, I learned a lot about Holland and the United States, including the absolute absurdity of the prohibition of marijuana in this country. In Holland, possession of cannabis is technically illegal, but tolerated to the point where it is sold in regulated cafes and is casually smoked on the streets. The only reason why weed is not completely legal is because of pressure applied by neighbors in France and Germany and from our own leaders in Washington, D.C. Amsterdam’s unique culture leads to many weed tourists, but the Dutch locals can’t understand their fascination and ask, “What’s the big deal?”

The strongest point in the legalization argument is the comparison between smoking weed and drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. It’s complete hypocrisy to have those two things legal but not weed.

Critics declare that weed makes you unproductive, so society needs to be protected from its effects. Is it really unproductive to put yourself in a state of mind that leads to greater reasoning, inspiration, illumination and relaxation? These attributes turn Amsterdam’s ganja caf