Elaine Brière is a Vancouver-based documentary photographer, filmmaker and writer.
I have been covering demonstrations, protests and sit-ins as a photojournalist for many years. Documentation of protest was part of my work as the coordinator of the East Timor Alert Network between 1986 and 1992. One of the salient features of the modern state is the disconnect between the centralized bureaucracy of government and its largely fragmented citizenry, who have very little influence on decision-making between elections.
The Netherlands is the only country in the world to allow over-the-counter sale of cannabis products. In the 1970s, when cannabis was becoming the drug of choice of young people in the Netherlands, for reasons of pragmatism and public health the Dutch government amended the Opium Act to distinguish soft drug use from hard-drug use and, deeming cannabis no more risky than alcohol, created the coffeeshop system.