There are many things to appreciate about living in the Netherlands – picturesque views, biking in fresh air, and last but certainly not least, legalized (sort of) marijuana.
For Sebastian* (22) from Germany that unique aspect of Dutch life even played a role in his decision to study here: "I heard really good feedback about the university so I wanted to be here. But it’s maybe also 10% that I could smoke here."
Although marijuana use is decriminalized in the Netherlands, that doesn’t translate to wide-spread social acceptance of the drug. All three students interviewed for this article asked to remain anonymous for the same reason – they fear that it will affect either their current jobs or their future professional lives.
Sondh* (26) is from India and getting his master’s degree. He explains why he wants his identity to remain a secret: "I was talking to friends about getting a job and the subject of weed came into it. They said it is tolerated in Netherlands but as far as your professional life goes, it can be a concern. If the people in the company know about it, it might give a bad impression."
However, despite the social stigma, all three students admire Dutch pragmatism and openness about marijuana use. Ella* (20) is an undergraduate from Canada: "It is a lot better giving people the right to choose. That is really important. I think Dutch people are better at self-governance. In Canada, people will say ‘I don’t smoke weed because it’s illegal’. But here people have gone through a thought process. They might say ‘I don’t smoke because it’s bad for my body or I don’t enjoy it’. I really appreciate that perspective."
Sebastian* started smoking when he was 18 and admits that he’s addicted. "Sometimes you just can’t handle everything that’s around you. When you are a student my age, it is sometimes really hard and marijuana is something that calms me down. I think about my course and doing everything perfect so that later I can get a good job. Those are some really big questions that I am really stressed about. I think I smoke too much. I smoke three grams a week. That is more than €100 a month. It is really a lot when you think about it."
Sebastian stresses that his cannabis use is something that is confined to this period of his life and a habit he will leave behind when he leaves TU/e. "One of the key things that I am smoking so much, that I am stressed, is that I don’t have structure in my school. I don’t have a rhythm. I would really like to stop [after university]. Now is really the time to find your way, to find yourself. I think in the future when I have a job I can quit."
*Not their real names.
For students who like more information or advice about marijuana use/abuse can make an appointment with a student psychologist at the STU-reception desk or by calling them at 040-2472221. Or call Novadic-Kentron at 040-2171200.
Editing for Eindhoven News: Chuan Nie