Dutch Coffeeshops Closed To Tourists?

22 11 2010

coffeshop signPlans released this month for a pass system to exclude non-residents from Dutch coffeeshops are causing concern amongst cannabis users around the world. Citing the problems of crime and ‘social nuisance’ caused by foreign tourists smoking cannabis, the new and still unstable coalition government wants to make the coffeeshops into private clubs where only adults who live in the Netherlands can become members.

It is currently unclear whether this will be overruled by EU law which prevents discrimination in business trading, or pass on the grounds that the substance being traded is not fully legal and therefore not protected by legislation.

What is clear is that, if implemented, this plan will remove most of the revenue generated by coffeeshops- an estimated €1.8 billion per year- as well as costing many coffeeshop employees their jobs, in the middle of an economic crisis.

However, this plan was first discussed by the government in 2003 and still nothing concrete has been announced. Confidence in the new coalition is not high, with a recent poll showing that only 28% of voters expect it to last a full term.

Shamefully, this plan represents a complete reversal of Holland’s successful tolerance policy which has led to the country having the lowest rates of drug abuse in the developed world.





First Coffeeshop opened in the United States of America

18 11 2009

Good news has reached us. In the city of Portland the first “Amsterdam” style Cannabis Café has been opened. Portland has (sort of) legalized the possession of  Marijuana under an ounce(a little under 30 grams).

The Cannabis Café has opened it’s door at precisely 4:20 p.m. last Friday afternoon and is the first coffee house in Oregon catering to licensed users of medical marijuana.

The new cafe, run by the Oregon branch of NORML, went into operation just weeks after the Justice Department announced that people who use marijuana for medical purposes and those who distribute it to them will not face federal prosecution, provided they act according to state law.

It looks like nearly every other coffeehouse in town, with Wi-Fi access, Coffee, soft drinks, trays of Marsee Bakery pastries and sandwiches. The only difference is that shiny silver Volcano vaporizers are plugged into outlets lining the tiled bar and the familiar smell of medical marijuana patients using their “medicine”.

The comparison to an Amsterdam coffeeshop doesn’t really hold up, as you can’t actually buy your weed IN the Cannabis Café. Anne Saker from oregonlive.com explains:

“The only people permitted in the Cannabis Café are those licensed to smoke who also hold membership in the lobbying group Oregon NORML. Patrons will be charged $5 a day. They can bring their own or smoke donated marijuana. Oregon law says medical marijuana may not be sold.”

Does this mean that for $5 a day a member gets free “donated” weed? So without actually buying the weed you still get to smoke weed? Great!

Below a video of the opening of the Cannabis Café in Portland.





The Dutch Cannabis-selling Cafes

10 12 2008

norml

The people over at norml.org have posted a very interesting article on their blog. It starts of with the following quote.

“Coffee Shops Will Disappear Within Two Years… The Netherlands Can’t Continue To Tolerate Existence of Coffee Shops Because Of International Opposition.”

– Henk van de Bunt, Professor of Criminology at Erasmus University (Radio Netherlands, Nov. 10, 2008)

We would like to add to this statement that the Dutch have had international pressure for years on this topic, the real factor is the way the current government chooses to deal with this pressure. It is true that the decriminalisation policy in the Netherlands is hard to sell internationally, but we don’t we understand why. The level of soft- and harddrugs users is very low in the Netherlands compared to other countries, so obviously the policy works, although it is not perfect. There are some forces in the Dutch governement that seem to be determined to get rid of the coffeeshops alltogether.

The rest of the article on norml.org goes as follows:

In the last few weeks, NORML has received numerous inquiries from international and American media, and concerned NORML members, regarding the current and future legal status of The Netherlands’ tolerant and pragmatic cannabis policies. Recent news headlines have concentrated on minority Dutch parties and academics (many of whom have historically opposed the ‘coffee shop’ model) that have been able to persuade coalition government parties (who favor cannabis tolerance) in making two small concessions on where cannabis-selling cafes can be located in the country:

*43 of 228 cannabis-selling cafes in the city of Amsterdam will have to close by the end of 2011 because they are located less than 275 yards from a secondary school. One of the unfortunate victims of this political and zoning concession is the famous Bulldog Café on the Leidseplein.

*In the border city of Maastricht, in an effort to assuage neighboring countries, the city council has voted to remove coffee shops from the center city area (however, allowing them in the suburbs and neighborhoods).

Read the rest of the article.





Cannabis Tribunal

21 10 2008

On Monday the first and Tuesday the second of December, the Cannabis college in cooperation with the “drug policy foundation” (stichting drugsbeleid) and ENCOD are organising the Cannabis tribunal at the international press centre in the Hague.

The main question these public hearings will be focusing on is; What is going to happen with the Dutch cannabis policy after almost 30 years of semi-decriminalisation?

The Cannabis Tribunal will consist out of six public hearings and a closing debate. Every hearing will be concluded by two speakers who both have a different point of view on the discussed matter.

The topics that will be discussed are;

  1. The future of the Coffeeshop
  2. Medicinal cannabis
  3. The role of the media
  4. The future of Hemp
  5. The Dutch drugs policy in an international perspective
  6. The rationale behind the cannabis prohibition

The goal of these public hearings is to start a nationwide debate discussing the reasons why there is such a thing as the cannabis prohibition and how the Dutch government can improve the current situation.

For more information please visit cannabistribunaal.nl (dutch)








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