Dutch Celebrate 30 Years of Legal Pot

Dutch Celebrate 30 Years of Legal Pot
Posted by CN Staff on November 30, 2002 at 15:06:17 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: Globe and Mail 
Haarlem, Netherlands — The water pipe stood two metres tall, encircled by people puffing on its 64 mouthpieces. Elsewhere in the room, a new machine rolled out 300 marijuana joints in minutes. Free hash was passed around.It was the start of a three-day Hash and Weed Festival on Friday evening. The aging pioneers of the Dutch marijuana culture, watched by hundreds of young aficionados, gathered in a sports gymnasium to mark the 30th anniversary of the first "coffee shop" that openly sold reefers like cups of coffee.
"This celebration honours the world's most successful marijuana experiment: the Dutch coffee shop system," said Pete Brady, an organizer and writer for Cannabis Culture Magazine.The seeds of Dutch drug tolerance were planted in 1969 when two entrepreneurs with a taste for marijuana started selling cannabis plants from a houseboat, calling themselves the Lowlands Weed company.In 1972, Wernard Bruining opened Mellow Yellow — then called a "tea house" — on the Amstel River in Amsterdam, the Dutch capital that is now a Mecca for marijuana smokers.The weekend festival was a tribute to three decades of progressive drug policies in the Netherlands and to the men, like Bruining, who founded a culture.Another of the pioneers at Friday's celebration was Old Ed Holloway, now 86, a cannabis cultivator who moved to the Netherlands in the 1970s from California. Mr. Holloway taught Dutch marijuana growers how to use genetic plant breeding techniques that increased the potency and yield of their crops.Representing marijuana's big-business establishment was Henk de Vries, who in 1975 opened the first smoke parlour called a "coffee shop" in a former brothel in Amsterdam's notorious Red Light district. Mr. de Vries owns the Bulldog chain of coffee shops, now a multinational business of cafes with its own clothing line. Last year, he said, he had about seven million customers.While Old Ed and Mr. de Vries were being honoured, an aging henna-haired Dutchman known as Armand strummed a guitar and sang his songs that had been the background themes in the coffee houses of the '70s.Along the sides of the sports hall, stands displayed the latest in smoking paraphernalia and the high-technology vapourizers that are replacing hash pipes with the younger crowd. Joints were free for the tasting.Nol van Schaik, founder of the Global Hemp Museum and owner of the Willie Wortel coffee shop chain, said the marijuana industry has grown so large, "we have become a full-fledged branch of Dutch business."Holland now has more than 800 coffee shops, found in 105 of the country's 500 cities and towns."We have lasted 30 years, despite criticism from around the world, particularly the United States, Sweden and France," said Mr. van Schaik, author of The Dutch Experience, a book on the marijuana movement that was released in conjunction with the 30th anniversary.The Dutch government passed groundbreaking legislation in 1976 that distinguished cannabis-based soft drugs from "hard drugs" such as heroin or cocaine. Cannabis was still officially illegal but the possession of up to 30 grams was no longer to be prosecuted as a criminal offence.Today, coffee shops sell marijuana and hash in five-gram bags without fear of penalty. Menus offer a vast selection, ranging from potent high-grade White Widow or Skunk varieties, grown in greenhouses, to milder outdoor strains such as Orange Bud.The liberal Dutch approach laid the foundation for a multibillion-dollar economy, attracting millions of visitors each year and generating substantial tax income for the Dutch government.Contrary to claims soft drugs open the way toward hard-drug addiction, Dutch advocates said coffee shops are a safe place for experimentation that keep potential users away from criminal pushers. The government insists while it tolerates soft drugs, it is tough on hard-drug dealers.A 2002 report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, said so-called "problem drug use" in the Netherlands is the lowest among countries in the European Union and candidate states.Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)Published: Saturday, November 30, 2002Copyright: 2002 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Willie Wortel Dutch Cannabis Cafe Marks 30th Anniversary's Smokin' Coffee Shops
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Comment #8 posted by eco-man on December 03, 2002 at 00:10:57 PT
30 years of cannabis coffeeshops. 4 AP photos. 
To see the 4 full-size AP photos on one page: Associated Press (AP) articles are there too. To reply to the copied thread at the link above it is necessary to go to the thread's original location: free to add more articles and photos to the thread. A Reuters article has been since added, too. 
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on December 01, 2002 at 12:25:10 PT
Article from Snipped Source
Hi Everyone, This is an interesting article about Amsterdam and thought some of you might want to read it so here it is!Amsterdam: Now You've Seen It AllAMSTERDAM -- Arrive in some cities and they quickly seem alluring, almost batting their eyes. Other cities show the faded face of wealth earned and spent long ago. Still others have a stark countenance that dismisses visitor and resident alike. And then there is Amsterdam. Depending on which canal bridge you cross, which turn you take up which narrow street, Amsterdam is alternately boisterous, lustful, cultured, reserved. Complete Article:
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Comment #6 posted by Naaps on December 01, 2002 at 08:27:08 PT
A Smoking Great Story
The happenings of the celebration are reported without a trace of cynicism. Nobody is called a pothead, rather they are “aficionados”. No recent bogus studies are cited. No calls to get tough are issued. No children are threatened. No police are interviewed. Merely, a peaceful gathering of cannabists, celebrating a worthy milestone, is reported.The kicker of the story comes at the end.  “A 2002 report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, said so-called "problem drug use" in the Netherlands is the lowest among countries in the European Union and candidate states.” The separation of the soft and hard drug markets, together with progressive, liberal Dutch attitudes have succeeded where it counts - reducing the harm of drug use within society.
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Comment #5 posted by CorvallisEric on December 01, 2002 at 00:01:44 PT
Yahoo with 4 photos newspaper and TV websites are carrying either the whole AP article or an abbreviated version of it. You can see them all by searching Google News "Haarlem cannabis" (for example). To see them all, click "repeat the search with the omitted results included." at the bottom of the results page.I'm really amazed how many US papers are carrying this, including one from Alabama(!)
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on November 30, 2002 at 18:14:54 PT
That was nice to see! Thank You!
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Comment #3 posted by CorvallisEric on November 30, 2002 at 17:29:15 PT
Same story elsewhere
The Toronto Star ran the same story with a bunch of related links including " tours Amsterdam" Post has tiny snippet in "Names & Faces":
Amsterdam's first cannabis cafe, Mellow Yellow, opened 30 years ago, and pot fans marked the anniversary by throwing a party in honor of founder Werner Bruining yesterday in Haarlem, Holland.
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Comment #2 posted by knox42897 on November 30, 2002 at 16:40:53 PT:
I was born there. Holland is the best country in the world. Hopefully we will be able to celebrate soon
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Comment #1 posted by AlvinCool on November 30, 2002 at 16:06:56 PT
I loved Amsterdam
I've been there twice. It's so remarkable to sit in a coffee shop and be totally accepted. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. Conversations all over the room and you can walk from one to the other so casually.
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