History, Hookers & Hashish
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Amsterdam has a few places where people – locals & tourists – can get information about every kind of drugs. Including testing legal and illegal drugs. Professionals share their knowledge about alcohol and drugs, its effects and risks. Relatively speaking the Dutch are quite good informed when it comes down to alcohol and drugs. More open access to this information decreases the risks among users.
One of the most famous drug info place of Amsterdam was “Advies Buro Drugs” (translated: Foundation of Drug Consultancy). Unfortunately, after several decades this drug test lab closed it doors. Since January 1, 2016 it stopped testing drugs.
We spoke with the founder of Foundation of Drugs Consultancy Amsterdam which was established in 1975. It aimed to increase knowledge and insight into everything related to the use of drugs. They want to make drug information available to the widest audience possible. People visited this drug test clinic, where various kinds of drugs – mostly illegal drugs like XTC, cocaine, MDMA, speed, etc – could be tested on its quality.
We wanted to know more about this place and interviewed the owner.
After 30 years the Foundation of Drug Consultancy stops testing drugs. From 1 January 2016 you can get your drugs tested at the Jellinek & GGD.
My name is August de Loor. I am 67 years old and this is my office – my consultancy bureau of drugs. I give advice to the Dutch Ministry of Health and I give drug related advice to the City of Amsterdam, that’s my main task. I also do professional drug tests and inform those who want to know more about drugs.
I started in 1969 as a street corner worker and I saw the start of the modern drug use. The hippies started smoking cannabis and I was there. In the parks, in the center of Amsterdam and then a few years later when the explosion of heroin started, I was there too. So, my carrier started in the same period as the modern drug use started. Before that time – in the 1920’s – there was also drug use, but in the high class of society. In the 60’s, the drug use socialized. It was the revolution of a completely new world and also in the use of drugs.
I was curious because I have been young too. I saw all the changes. The first cannabis users in Holland were arrested by the police or they had to addiction clinic and it was only about smoking a bit of weed. So that was a real stupid policy in Holland. Back then, the government’s policy was about repression and they had a mindset of “you’re a patient”. My approach was different. I said: You have to accept the use of drugs but minimize the risk of it.
In other words: Harm Reduction!
I gave first aid on big parties in the Netherlands. I also tested cannabis in that time because it was being sold on the streets – so it was polluted. I also tested cannabis of drug dealers. In the time that heroin was popular in Holland – I became a person where junkies could go to for advice. More importantly, I started the needle exchange program – where one could get new, clean needles. I’m not a social, but more an inventor. To minimize the healthy risks, I invented a lot of things that became normal nowadays.
I get the municipality of Amsterdam, the people who work on the ambulance – I train them with first aid related to drugs. When there is a dangerous XTC pill on the market, I inform them. I also get coffeeshop owners and heroin junks as well. Parents also visit my office. Some of them are concerned and think “Oh, my child has gone crazy, because he/she uses too much”. So, the everybody comes in here…
(Then suddenly, the interview is interrupted. Two female students walk in and one of them ask August if he has seen her public transportion card. She has lost it somewhere, but wasn’t sure it was at August’s drug test lab. A few minutes ago, August tested their XTC pills here so therefore they came back to see if it was here. Together they had a look around hoping she left it here. Unfortunately they haven’t found it… The ladies said August good-bye and left.)
Not so much. This morning, there were two tourists and they wanted to know where they could buy drugs. I said: I don’t know. The only thing I can say to you is do not buy it on the streets. And when you’ve bought something you can get it tested here on quality and whatnot.
The most tested drug is XTC, but I also test cocaine… I test all the drugs except for cannabis because that’s unnecessary. You see, when you don’t have good experience with a certain coffeeshop, you go to another one. That’s the succes of the coffeeshop business in Holland. Most coffeeshops in Amsterdam and Holland don’t sell low quality cannabis, because when they’d do that, they would lose their clients.
It depends in what kind of group or atmosphere you are. When someone is in a party environment – like the huge parties with the DJ’s – then the most popular drug is XTC. When you’re in the caribbean party scene then it’s cocaine. In the (heavy hard) rock scene, speed is the most popular drug. And in the New-Age scene – people who think that there is more between heaven and earth – they use ketamine or LSD mostly.
That’s one of mine inventions more or less. The Dutch Drugs Law says that if you have (a legal business) with activities that are completely focussed on health care, those activities are above the law. So, I have protocols. It’s not allowed that the police can come in here. Around my drug test lab, police officers are not allowed to maintain/ arrest a drug user within the range of 500 meters. In other words, if a person would say to the police: I’m going to the drug test lab to get my drugs tested, then the cops have let that person go. Harm reduction and health care are more important than the law. So, that’s a typical Dutch approach! And I’m using that to reduce to risks on drug use.
People visit my office, they bring their drugs with them, let’s say it’s XTC. Then I do a quick test with a certain liquid to check if there is MDMA in it. If it doesn’t react on a proper way, then I know there is no MDMA in it. In other words: It’s fake. If the liquid turns black, then I know it’s MDMA or another active substance. I have a list from the laboratory – a database with thousands of different XTC tablets – and with that information I can tell my clients what’s in it. So, my advice is based on the info of a database from the lab with has drug results of the last eight weeks. 80% of the time, I can give my clients an advice and tell them what the substances are…
(The interview is interrupted again. Another female customer visits the Drug Consultancy and would like to have more information about her drugs. She shows some XTC pills and a certain “designer” drug which she would like to get tested. August gets his equipment and within a few minutes he gives her the result and advice. The lady is glad to hear the outcome of the result and August’s counsel. She pays, says thanks and leaves.)
We’ve asked August de Loor some other questions as well. Questions like: “What type of users do you define?“, “what’s the best way to use XTC?” and “would you say that the average drug user in Holland is relatively speaking well informed?“. We’ve made a video of this and we are working on that right now. We will publish it as soon as possible. Stay tuned!
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Unfortunately, August de Loor retired in January 2016 with his drug test lab. We’d like to thank August for all his dedication, hard work and love for helping others! Cheers, August! Luckily, there are still some other official drug testing stations in Amsterdam. Good to know: You can get your hard drugs tested here anonymously and legally!
Jacob Obrechtstraat 92
1071 KR Amsterdam
Thursday & Friday from 5 pm till 8.30 pm
1018 XG Amsterdam
Saturday from 1.30 pm till 4.30 pm
We are a huge fan of this drug testing system in Amsterdam – it decreases the risks for those who want to use drugs. It’s also an unique and typical Dutch system which fits the tolerant drug culture. It’s not for nothing that we did this interview. Would you like to know more about this? Join our red light district tours and hear more things you didn’t know about drugs in the Netherlands.