Amsterdam: Hold The Tobacco, Pass The Joint

Amsterdam: Hold The Tobacco, Pass The Joint
Posted by CN Staff on July 01, 2008 at 06:54:19 PT
By Christel Kucharz
Source: ABC News 
Amsterdam -- A Dutch ban on cigarette smoking in public places takes effect today, but people still will be able to light up in the country's cafes as long as they are smoking pot. The nationwide tobacco ban is intended to protect workers from secondhand smoke in bars, cafes and restaurants.Even the country's 700-plus coffee shops, where marijuana smoking is tolerated, will be subject to the no-tobacco rule.
"It would have been wrong to move towards a smoke-free catering industry and then make an exception for coffee shops," Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told Dutch TV station NOS. "People would not have understood that."So, does that mean you can still sit in a cafe and smoke a joint?"In theory, yes," Dutch Health Minister Ab Klink told lawmakers earlier this year. "Smoking can continue at the shops for as long as no tobacco is in the mix."He added, "Those who prefer to accent their marijuana high with a bit of tobacco as well will have to go outside or to separate tobacco-smoking rooms. The alternative will be going-tobacco free, as the ban seeks, by smoking marijuana alone."Coffee shop owners have been unsuccessful arguing against the no-tobacco ban, trying desperately to get special provisions approved. They will be held responsible and fined if a customer is caught smoking a tobacco-based joint.De Tweede Kamer, a small, well-known coffee shop in the heart of Amsterdam, has been in business for more than 24 years and is frequented on most days by 250 to 300 customers.Jason den Enting, the manager, told ABC News in a telephone interview, "This is absurd. Our customers come here to socialize and smoke. Smoking has to be allowed in a coffee shop, it's a cultural thing."He explains that customers must be 18 years old, adding, "At age 18, people are old enough to vote and they are mature enough to go to war for our country, so why are they not deemed mature enough to decide themselves whether or not they want to smoke?""The other side of the coin are the staffers, working at the cafes, [who] are meant to be protected from secondhand smoke," he said. "But that point is moot; it is entirely up to the employee whether he wants to work at a coffee shop."  Coffee Shop Culture in Amsterdam   Each year some 4.2 million tourists from all over the world visit Amsterdam.While most of them come here for the well-known tourist attractions the canals, the museums, the historic buildings others come to enjoy the country's relatively hassle-free drug policy, which has led to a division in the eyes of the law between "hard" drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, and "soft" drugs, like cannabis.Technically, cannabis is an illegal substance. However, a policy of tolerance allows customers to have a joint at specially licensed cafes called coffee shops, so long as the amount sold to one person per day is limited to 5 grams. Coffee shops are allowed to stock a maximum of 500 grams.The coffee shops have to adhere to strict criteria. They must be licensed, and they are prohibited from selling soft drugs to minors under 18. Advertising or promotion of drugs is strictly banned.Now, the license can be confiscated if the owner is found not to adhere to the new no-tobacco rule.In April 2007, coffee shops were forced to choose between serving alcohol and cannabis. The vast majority opted to serve cannabis.Cannabis is usually mixed with tobacco and rolled in a joint, but it can be smoked in a pipe or it can also be consumed as a tea or in cake form.  Is Business Expected to Plummet?  Jason den Enting has been managing the Tweede Kamer for more than six years without any problems.He said that his European customers are the ones to be most affected by the new rule."Our guests from America are usually the ones to smoke marijuana pure or in a pipe. They're more used to that than our clients from here. Our local patrons traditionally prefer their cannabis joints mixed with tobacco, because it isn't that strong then."Asked whether he expects business to plummet, den Enting said, "I don't think so, but it might be less fun in the future."So far," he said, "we're taking pride in providing a convivial atmosphere, We don't want to become a drug takeaway. Our guests like to come here for the social contacts, chatting with each other, reading newspapers or talking about politics."Now," he said, "that atmosphere is likely to be destroyed by an absurd decision."Note: Coffee Shop Owners Reflect on Tobacco Ban and Starting 'Drug Takeway' Culture.Source: ABC News (US Web)Author: Christel KucharzPublished: July 1, 2008Copyright: 2008 ABC News Internet VenturesContact: worldnews abc.comWebsite: Article:Dutch MJ Coffee Shops Brace for Smoking Ban
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #9 posted by rchandar on July 17, 2008 at 21:39:59 PT:
Sam Adams
No, I don't think that's so. Cannabis is "tolerated": they would have to completely rewrite the "Opium Act". Which means that all politicians, and the Cabinet, would have to sign on to a completely different policy and outlook for their society.So no, I don't think that a tobacco ban actually means anything. It will discourage some people from coming; they will likely go to other places where they feel more at home. But no, I don't think they could do anything without an entirely new, comprehensive law governing possession, sale, and manufacture. From what I can see, that isn't happening.It's true, though, that they're trying to make people less comfortable with the current situation.--rchandar
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by Hope on July 17, 2008 at 17:52:55 PT
Trip Report
Whiny, tyrannical, busybodies proliferate. Sad. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by rchandar on July 17, 2008 at 13:01:16 PT:
Trip Report
From what I saw, most of the people there seem to support the "tolerance policy." I will say this, though: a lot of American Nazis have invaded the place, free to vocalize their disgust and disbelief at people who do not live their cookie-cutter, psycho-limited way of life. On the plane, I almost got into it with an American boy (three years old) who was circulating basically racist stuff with her mom. Like, "I'm proud of being racist. I want colored people to just die." You can still smoke at the shops, but hotels are a different matter: they send people to snoop around to see if you're smoking anything. Best bet, and especially with the EURO: a hostel. They're cheap and "smoker-friendly." My guess is that for awhile at least--and this is summer, the high season (no pun intended)--they're trying to attract middle-class Americans with families. Let's condense that a little: American Nazis, who think it's their job to scold and threaten anyone who isn't exactly what they think they're supposed to be. These are sick people: they're proud of their racism, and have no problem wishing death and imprisonment for anyone who doesn't kiss their pretty white little asses. I'm definitely not going to say that Amsterdam is ruined--far from it. Keep with your people and avoid those who think they know best.--rchandar
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by Max Flowers on July 02, 2008 at 10:24:43 PT
Regarding #2
I just looked at those comments on that article. What was one of the first things I saw? This stinking pile of disinformation:"A well tended hydroponic plant will yield about 1.5 to 2 lbs of high grade tops, while bottom leaf and stem can be isomerized for hash oil or have the THC leached out by cooking it in butter for edibles. This is an enormously profitable cash crop."I guarantee you that is a COP writing that. That is such BS! I'm tired of seeing these lies. Most growers struggle to get a pound per LIGHT, growing from 6-18 plants (per light) to get there. A pound per PLANT (never mind "1.5 to 2 lbs"!) is a dream indoors... not impossible, but very hard to pull off and requires making the plant so big that it dominates the room (which requires extra months of vegetative growth, which most growers won't wait for).And the use of the word "isomerized" also clues me in that the person is talking BS, as no one "isomerizes" anything these days. Isomerization is a chemical process designed to convert CBD to THC; no one bothers with it these days, it's a relic from the 70s, a stinky and hazardous process involving sulfuric acid. It would be pointless on trim already containing a good amount of THC; it came about as a way to increase potency of the shwaggy Mexican that dominated the market in those old days. This is definitely a cop writing that, or just someone totally clueless, but that kind of disinfo hurts the reputation of small growers by spreading the myth that all of them pull in million-dollar loads every time.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by OverwhelmSam on July 01, 2008 at 15:17:22 PT
Why Can't We Just
Use this as a template for initiatives in the various other states and counties?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on July 01, 2008 at 13:48:36 PT
Prop. ??
I hope that initiative makes it to the ballot in CA! I love the text of it, how can anyone deny that it's the truth?People in the USA only like to discuss "inalienable rights" when they're talking about 250-year-old history. They couldn't be more right about the big corporations having more influence at the federal level, as well as the media being more effective in controlling people's thoughts on federal issues vs. local.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by FoM on July 01, 2008 at 08:35:29 PT
Thank you for the article. I found the comments very interesting.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by OverwhelmSam on July 01, 2008 at 08:24:46 PT
California To Legalize Recreational Use
In case you missed it:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on July 01, 2008 at 07:39:33 PT
Health Nazis on the March
Sorry to see this holier-than-thou attitude take over Holland too. Professional fisherman is the most dangerous job, there is a good chance of drowning, getting a hand caught in a winch and ripped off, etc. Employees know the risk when they take the job. Same with coffeeshops. This law is like banning all fishing from boats because fisheman can get injured.In my city a survey showed that 90% of staff in bars and restaurants were smokers anyway.But the worst thing about this is that if they can ban public smoking of tobacco than a complete ban on cannabis smoking will be legally possible as well.All of these restrictions are "creeping Prohibition" or "soft Prohibition" and eventually become "soft curfew". If all public places are essentially closed and regulated until there's little to do except staying in the house and watching TV, that's virtual martial law. Certainly it's cultural martial law.In England during the industrial revolution the government would close the pubs on Saturday & Sunday to keep the people from organizing. Of course that's not how they explained it, they said they were doing on behalf of the temperance ladies and Church to protect people's health.
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment