Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Absinthe to be legalized in France: "The Green Fairy" is another step towards civilization's collapse

Green, incredibly alcoholic and some say mind-altering - these are the qualities that led to absinthe being banned in France almost 100 years ago. But all that's about to change, after the government voted to allow sales of the drink nicknamed the "green fairy".

"I will not be seen as a drug addict anymore," says Clement Arnoux, an absinthe drinker and enthusiast.

"It changes everything from the point of view of my friends and family," he said.

The green, anise-flavoured spirit is associated with many of the country's most famous and esteemed artists and writers - like Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec and Paul Verlaine - but it was banned in France in 1915 for its alleged harmful effect.

Absinthe is distilled with the leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, known as grande wormwood, which contains the drink's "special ingredient", thujone, which reputedly has mind-altering effects.

Later, the rule was relaxed, allowing the drink to be sold as long as it was not called absinthe, and instead labelled "a spirit made from extracts of the absinthe plant".

Now the ban is expected to be lifted entirely any day now, after the French Senate voted in favour of the move in mid-April.

While drinkers like Clement Arnoux are relieved that the stigma of illegality has gone, not everyone sees the change of law as cause for celebration. (read more)