After a 95 year ban, Absinth is once again available in Holland.
Mr Boorsma, owner of a store in spirits, requested to the Amsterdam court of Justice to terminate a 95 year old law which prohibited absinth. He made his request after a bottle of absinth was found in his store and immediately confiscated. Instead of paying the fine, Mr Boorsma started a trial. 'I found it a witchcraft hunt.' he explains.
The Absinth which is currently available on the market is complementary to all the European rules on the subject. It is freely and legally produced and sold in amongst others France, Germany, Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. The amount of Thujon is way below the maximum that was set by the European Union. Thujon has an effect on the nerve system, like caffeine. However, this effect is minimal. Drinking a bottle of Absinth will lead to nothing but severe intoxication. Therefore one should drink Absinth for its taste, and not for the alleged hallucinogenic capacities.
Absinth was brewed for the first time and the end of the 18th century by a French doctor, resulting in a brandy of anise and alsem, the latter being the herb that gave Absinth its characteristic green colour.
The drink became popular in almost entire Europe after Pernod started the first Absinth brewery. Especially artists like Beaudelaire, van Gogh, Manet, Picasso and Hemingway were great admirers of this particular drink.
The story accompanying the resistance against Absinth was that the substance Thujon led to madness. However, in the cheaper versions of Absinth were substances that were much more dangerous: insect repellants, copper acetate and ammonia.
The drink was permanently prohibited in Switzerland and the Benelux in 1909 after a Swiss man had executed his entire family under influence of Absinth. France prohibited it in 1912, and held the green substance responsible for the loss of the First World War.
Absinth is freely available in liquor stores in many European countries. It contains 50 to 75 % alcohol. The Dutch ban dates from a time when adultery, gambling and anti conception were also prohibited by law. These bans have since long been lifted and considered outdated.
As long as Thujon is naturally present, en the amount of it in an alcoholic drink does not exceed the established percentage the drink can freely be traded within Europe. That’s why other European countries have terminated their absinth laws. Now the Dutch court finally follows that good example.
A spokesman of the union for liquor store owners is happy for Mr. Boorsma, but doesn’t want to draw any conclusions yet: “Health law, and therefore alcohol law can be arranged on a national level. This is merely the interpretation of a judge.'