Dutch Marijuana Coffee Shops Brace for Smoking Ban

Dutch Marijuana Coffee Shops Brace for Smoking Ban
Posted by CN Staff on June 28, 2008 at 06:32:03 PT
By Toby Sterling, Associated Press Writer 
Source: Associated Press
Amsterdam, Netherlands -- This city's famed marijuana bars have weathered many challenges over the years and are still smoking. But now they face an unwelcome blast of fresh air: On July 1, the Netherlands will be one of the last European countries to ban smoking in bars and restaurants in compliance with EU law.The Health Ministry says the ban will apply to cafes that sell marijuana, known as coffee shops. But this being Holland, which for centuries has experimented with social liberalism, there's a loophole: The ban covers tobacco but not marijuana, which is technically illegal anyway.
But that still leaves coffee shops and their customers in a bind. Dutch and other European marijuana users traditionally smoke pot in fat, cone-shaped joints mixed with tobacco."It's the world upside down: In other countries they look for the marijuana in the cigarette. Here they look for the cigarette in the marijuana," said Jason den Enting, manager of coffee shop Dampkring.Shops are scrambling to adapt. One alternative is "vaporizer" machines, which incinerate weed smokelessly. Another is to replace tobacco with herbs like coltsfoot, a common plant that looks like a dandelion and that smokers describe as tasting a bit like oregano.But most shops are just planning to increase their sales of hash brownies and pure weed — and are hoping the law isn't enforced.Michael Veling, owner of the 4-20 Cafe and a board member of the Cannabis Retailers' Union, said he expected a small decline in sales as smokers are forced to separate their nicotine addiction from their marijuana habit.But he expects the long-term effects to be minimal. "It's absurd to say that coffee shops will go bankrupt in the second week of July. Nonsense," he said.Veling is instructing his staff to send tobacco smokers outside, but he doesn't expect all coffee shops to do the same. He said some owners will ignore the ban — and will probably get away with it, at least for a while.But "if obeying the smoking ban becomes a condition of renewing your business license, just watch how fast it will happen," he said. "That's the way things work."Chris Krikken, spokesman for the Food and Wares Authority, charged with enforcing the ban, said his agency won't be targeting coffee shops in particular."For the first month we'll just be gathering information about compliance in a wide range of hospitality businesses. Depending on what we find, we may focus more squarely on a sector that's lagging," he said.But he said individual businesses caught allowing customers to smoke will be warned and definitely checked again. "Repeat offenders will face escalating fines," he said.Marijuana possession is illegal in the Netherlands, but smokers are not prosecuted for holding up to 5 grams. Around 750 cafes — half of them in Amsterdam — are licensed to have up to 500 grams in stock at any one time.The Dutch "tolerance" policy recognizes that some people will smoke pot regardless of laws, so it might as well happen in an orderly way. Critics complain this encourages substance abuse.But cannabis abuse in Holland ranks somewhere in the middle compared to other nations and is lower than in the U.S., France and England, according to statistics compiled by the United Nations' Office on Drugs and Crime.At the same time, the levels of THC — the main active chemical in marijuana — have soared in the past decade and are now at 16 percent in Dutch weed.The U.S. government sounded the alarm earlier this month because THC in American marijuana has doubled to 9.6 percent since 1983, and it warned of recent scientific findings linking the drug to mental problems.The Dutch government, currently led by a conservative coalition with a religious bent, is slowly squeezing back the number of coffee shops by not renewing licenses when shops close.Growers are arrested, leaving coffee shop owners struggling to obtain their main product."The rules are being set to pester us out of business one by one, slowly but surely," said Richard van Velthoven, manager at The Greenhouse, who said he feared being shut down for tobacco violations."I've taken the cigarette machines out, I'm putting Coltsfoot on the tables, I've bought extra vaporizers, the staff is watching out — what more can I do?" he said.German tourist Lars Schmit said lamented the possible end of an era.Without coffee shops, he said, "a little bit of Amsterdam will die."Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Toby Sterling, Associated Press Writer Published: June 28, 2008Copyright: 2008 The Associated PressCannabisNews -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #8 posted by rchandar on July 01, 2008 at 08:47:07 PT:
My Sense
There will be some problems with this move. There's not a chance of a coffeeshop being closed down because of this: coffeeshops can only be closed if they have too much stock, serve to minors, or have alcohol on their premises. The tobacco legislation is separate: closure rules do not include tobacco, so the person, not the establishment, would be fined.that being said. right now it holds no issues for most people: if you want to smoke tobacco, go outside. Right now, that's no problem--it's summer, and the weather is beautiful. truth is, though, that it will affect European smokers of both pot and hashish--with both, they like to mix with tobacco. so, you decide to buy your smoke and go "home". Which usually means, a hotel. can you spark up in your room? some of the hotels in Amsterdam--and I am talking about the small, family-run ones that are cheap and popular--have designated themselves as "non-smoking". Some will allow smoking. One thing I should tell you: don't be fooled if they say that their hotel is "smoker-friendly". a complaint from another guest is enough to get a severe admonition from the owner. some of the hotel proprietors are downright liars. they will try to sell you postcards showing pics of the coffeeshops, then they will bitch at you for having smoked. my advice to anyone: if you go home with your stuff, open your window. many of these hotels have quietly placed smoke detectors in their rooms, and when they go off, the entire building is awakened.Europe used to be an incredible deal for Americans. Now, it's definitely not good, what with the EURO. Hotel prices, for those with USD, have gone up about 170% since 1996, when the Netherlands de facto "legalized" cannabis. If you go to Europe, I guarantee you will feel it in your wallet. It's not cheap--even if you stay in a hostel or a camp tent. i don't think anybody's going to close because of this. remember, though: Big Brother is watching you. 
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Comment #7 posted by Dankhank on June 30, 2008 at 17:27:37 PT
mixing ...
cannabis with nicotine SHOULD be treated like tobacco ...It's the one of the two that kills ...
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Comment #6 posted by observer on June 30, 2008 at 16:43:09 PT
Informal Custom
"It's the world upside down: In other countries they look for the marijuana in the cigarette. Here they look for the cigarette in the marijuana," said Jason den Enting, manager of coffee shop Dampkring.In many homes in British Columbia, Canada, folks who smoke tobacco are asked to take it outdoors. At the same places, cannabis is often allowed to be smoked indoors. Informal custom. Mixing the two usually gets treated like tobacco. 
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Comment #5 posted by Richard Zuckerman on June 30, 2008 at 16:17:42 PT:
IF IT DID INCLUDE CANNABIS: Would the use of a "vaporizer" constitute an exception to the prohibition of "smoking"?
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on June 29, 2008 at 11:27:07 PT
It's nice to see you.
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Comment #3 posted by hempity on June 29, 2008 at 10:51:03 PT
hitler Had No Smoking Laws
It seems that Hitler was a smoker in his youth but at some stage he became aware of its health hazards and, when in power (perhaps with the zeal of a convert), appeared to detest tobacco, which he called "the wrath of the Red Man against the White Man, vengeance for having been given hard liquor." But the antismoking campaign reflected "a national political climate stressing the virtues of racial hygiene and bodily purity" as well as the Fuhrer's personal prejudices. The same could be said of Nazi efforts to discourage drinking and encourage a better diet.The state performer in antismoking propaganda was Adolf Hitler. As one magazine put it: "brother national socialist, do you know that our Fόhrer is against smoking and think that every German is responsible to the whole people for all his deeds and emissions, and does not have the right to damage his body with drugs?"The nazis' exerted massive control over most facets of ordinary citizen's lives. Such compulsive regulations, even if arguably well intentioned, ultimately lead to a large scale sacrifice of basic freedoms.The nazis greatly restricted tobacco advertising, banned smoking in most public buildings, increasingly restricted and regulated tobacco farmers growing abilities, and engaged in a sophisticated anti-smoking public relations campaign. (Suing tobacco companies for announced consequences was a stunt that mysteriously eluded Hitler's thugs.)If some of these measures appear familiar today, then consider the rules laid down in 1941 regarding tobacco advertising. "Images that create the impression that smoking is a sign of masculinity are barred, as are images depicting men engaged in activities attractive to youthful males (athletes or pilots, for example)," and "may not be directed at sportsmen or automobile drivers," while "advocates of tobacco abstinence or temperance must not be mocked." Advertisements were banned from films, billboards, posters and "the text sections of journals and newspapers." Nevertheless, even the Nazis couldn't equal the recent ban on smoking on death row, meaning prisoners about to undergo massive electric shocks are forbidden from indulging in "one last drag" -- talk about cruel and unusual punishment. 
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Comment #2 posted by Dankhank on June 28, 2008 at 18:42:11 PT
is a popular "additive" to the typical Dutch spliff that you see them sharing during a visit to a cannabis cafe.I've seen Germans doing it, too, likely they learned from visits to Amsterdam ... or lack the ability to keep hashish burning. Americans smoke a different way, preferring unadulterated Cannabis So, cafe owners may be required to "police" every cone-shaped spliff to see if nicotine has been added. Watta country ...
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on June 28, 2008 at 18:33:05 PT
2nd hand cannabis smoke is valuable / desirable.
It is clear why people want people to stop smoking cigs in a public place where there are people at said place who are eating things like food and do not also smoke the killer cigs.It is not reasonable to stop people from smoking the relatively safe God-given plant cannabis in locations / cannabis shops where people go to smoke cannabis. Especially since cannabis hasn't be honesty associated with killing people in thousands of years of usage.It would be reasonable to stop people from smoking cigs in cannabis shops.BUT:Are there many / any people in cannabis shops worried about 2nd hand cannabis smoke?
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