Cannabis Debates Begin Tomorrow

4 02 2011

In response to the current plans for limiting the right to buy cannabis to Dutch residents, and other related restrictions, a series of debates are taking place throughout the Netherlands during February and March. Beginning tomorrow (05/02) at the Cannabis College in Amsterdam, the Cannabis Debates are open to everyone over the age of 18 and attendance (14:00 to 17:00) is free.

Workable Cannabis Policy
The Cannabis Debates are organized by the VOC (lit. Society for the Abolition of Cannabis Prohibition) and THC (Taskforce for Cannabis Management), an independent work-group including members of the National Platform of Coffeeshop Unions (LOC) and the VOC. Their aim is to present a workable and well supported alternative to the potentially disastrous schemes favoured by the Cabinet.

This alternative is a clear and regulated management of cannabis, including growing, for personal use and would effectively remove the ‘back-door’ criminality from the ‘front-door’ legal sales. The contradiction between illegal wholesale supply and decriminalized personal supply is the root of the problems with the tolerance policy, caused not by going ‘too far’ as many politicians seem to think, but by not going far enough.
Concept model 'Van Gedogen Tot Handhaven'

Be part of the Cannabis Debates
The management concept presented by THC sets out a practical and safe system for regulating the cannabis trade and is entitled ‘Van Gedogen Naar Handhaven’ (‘From Tolerance To Management’). Contributions and suggestions are welcome from everyone who attends the debates (please bear in mind that the main language will be Dutch). Considering that the Tweede Kamer began their own debate on moving from cannabis tolerance to zero tolerance exactly a year ago today, the Cannabis Debates offer an essential opportunity to find a saner solution that must not be missed.

Other debate dates:

Zaterdag 26 februari:
Coffeeshop The Pink, Willemstraat 35, Eindhoven

Zaterdag 5 maart:
Koffieshop De Os, Korfmakersstraat 2, Leeuwarden

Maandag 21 maart:
Live 330 / Cremers, Korte Molenstraat 2, Den Haag

Source: VOC Nederland, Zaterdag 5 februari eerste cannabis debat in amsterdam





Dutch Coffeeshop Pass System Approved By European Court

16 12 2010

Coffeeshops will be effectively restricted from selling cannabis to non-residents, and Amsterdam is no exception. The controversial ‘weed pass’ system planned by the new Dutch government is not in conflict with the European treaty on free movement of goods, nor the current anti-discriminatory legislation, it was announced yesterday.

Man smoking a joint in an Amsterdam coffeeshop

Will tourists still be allowed to share cannabis bought by a resident?

The coalition government, already troubled by internal conflict and scandal in their first few months, asked that the European Court examine the new measure for possible conflict with existing legislation. The European Court has allowed the plans in order to combat the ‘drug tourism’ problems that residents have been experiencing in border towns.

Amsterdam relies on tourists, many of whom openly state that they would not visit the city if they were banned from coffeeshops, for a great deal of revenue. The Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan doubts that the pass system will improve anything, stating that street dealing and the problems associated with it will only increase. Despite this the government will not make an exception for the city that has been a Mecca for marijuana lovers for over three decades and a symbol of free thought and acceptance for hundreds of years.

The pass system will be implemented as soon as possible in the province of Brabant (in the south of the Netherlands, bordering Belgium) although details have not yet been released on who will approve, issue and control the passes, nor how they should be applied for. Other issues, such as whether tourists will be allowed into coffeeshops simply to drink coffee and if there will be restrictions on residents sharing legally purchased cannabis with non-residents, have yet to be explored.





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.





Dutch among lowest cannabis users in Europe-report

22 03 2010

cannabis - marijuana  usage reportThe annual report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction was published late last year, so while it´s not exactly ´hot off the presses´ news, the study´s findings and conclusions are well worth mentioning.

The Dutch are among the lowest users of marijuana or cannabis in Europe despite the Netherlands’ well-known tolerance of the drug, according to a regional study published.  Among adults in the Netherlands, 5.4 percent used cannabis, compared with the European average of 6.8 percent, according to an annual report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, using latest available figures.

A higher percentage of adults in Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic and France took cannabis last year, the EU agency said, with the highest being Italy at 14.6 percent. Usage in Italy used to be among the lowest at below 10 percent a decade ago.

Countries with the lowest usage rates, according to the Lisbon-based agency, were Romania, Malta, Greece and Bulgaria.

Cannabis use in Europe rose steadily during the 90s and earlier this decade, but has recently stabilised and is beginning to show signs of decline, the agency said, owing to several national campaigns to curb and treat use of the drug.

“Data from general population and school surveys point to a stabilising or even decreasing situation,” the report said.

Source: Reuters.com

Read the full report.





Dutch coffeeshop closed to tourists?

11 09 2009

The Netherlands used to be one of the most progressive countries in the world when it came to softdrugs.

The Dutch policy of regulating rather then prohibiting has obviously worked, as the percentage of regular (soft)drugs user is lower then in almost all european countries and even the United States. The only problem is that cannabis was never actually legalized – in contrary to what many people believe – cannabis is still an illegal substance according to Dutch law. This has led to the unworkable situation where people can buy small amounts at the coffeeshop but the coffeeshops can’t buy their weed legally.

This “decriminalization” policy is a weird situation, but it has worked for years. However, in the past couple of years the political climate seems to be changing. Some elements in the Dutch government are doing everything in their power to stop people from having a bit of fun. In this context it means closing many coffeeshops, having coffeeshops owners choose between their liquor licence and their “coffeeshop” licence and now even closing most coffeeshops for tourist.

The proposal that will be discussed in parliament today is that of a members-only policy for all coffeeshops and tourists are only allowed in the larger coffeeshops. It is not exactly clear yet what this means for Amsterdam and other major cities, but it is another giant leap in the wrong direction. The Dutch government will put forward a new bill somewhere in the coming months which will (hopefully) give more clarity on how the future is going to look.

All we know is that if this proposal is actually going to come into effect it will cause more problems then it will solve.

Source: nrc.nl





Dutch police to crack down on cannabis export

22 10 2008

Source: NRC.nl Photo: Flip Fransen

Last saturday the Dutch newspaper NRC handelsblad published an interview with the head of the Dutch cannabis task force Max Daniel. Obviously the original interview in the newspaper was in Dutch, however NRC has been so kind to provide an version for their English audience.

This interview is very interesting because it seems to hold a negative opinion about cannabis and the way the Dutch decriminalisation system works. By doing so however, it presents an excellent case for the legalisation of cannabis.

Mr. Daniel points out in this interview that the Dutch cannabis trade is largely controlled by organised crime and that he is planning to crack down on these organisations. At the same time he also points out that it is not his intention to close any of the coffeeshops.

As many of you may know coffeeshops are allowed to sell a maximum of 5 grams of cannabis per person to the consumer. At the same time the supply side of these coffeeshops is still illegal. As Mr. Daniel emphasises he wants to stop criminals at the supply side of the cofffeeshop. How is he going to achieve this without closing the coffeeshops? There seems to be somewhat of a contradiction in his statements?

There is only one way to achieve this and that is to fully regulate the market, both supply to and from coffeeshops should be legal and regulated, this is the only way to effectively prevent criminal organisations from taking part in the cannabis trade in the Netherlands.

Another interesting point is the figure below on Dutch cannabis exports. How do they estimate this figure? Are all the tourist that buy cannabis in a coffeeshop and smoke it in the Netherlands included in these export figures? If they are not, they should be, as by definition this is export too. Does that mean the Dutch government, who taxes the sales in coffeeshops, is part of this “criminal” conspiracy to export Cannabis?

Police to crack down on cannabis export

Source: NRC.nl Published: 20 October 2008

Dutch cannabis growers earn around 2 billion euros from exporting marijuana to the rest of the world every year, says police commissioner Max Daniel who heads a task force set up by the government this summer. An interview with the police chief who has been appointed to crack down on criminal organisations involved in the illegal trade.

Read the rest of this entry »





Guerilla growing with the Dutch government

10 09 2008

As you might know the Dutch parlement building has somewhat of a garden. They even have a nice pond (also known as the hofvijver) with an little island in the middle.

You also may have heard about how the Dutch government has been increasingly hostile towards cannabis  over the past years.

These facts inspired a few creative minds and they decided it was time to plant some cannabis on the above mentioned island using a blowpipe and an abundance of cannabis seeds. :)

Have a look at the video Chris Pieplenbosch put on his youtube channel.








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