Dutch Smoking Ban Leaves Cannabis Shops In Limbo

Dutch Smoking Ban Leaves Cannabis Shops In Limbo
Posted by CN Staff on December 06, 2008 at 17:49:40 PT
By Denis Campbell
Source: Huffington Post
Amsterdam -- Almost everyone knows coffee drinking is the last reason anyone visits an Amsterdam Coffee House. Stroll into one of the many flag festooned cafť-like establishments along the Kalverstraat and you are handed a unique menu that instead of Kenyan, Javanese or Blue Mountain beans, contains the daily list of available ganga, weed, Mary Jane, marijuana or hashish - a set of options which partially explains the very mellow, caffeine-free patronage.
So when Dutch law changed last July, bringing a total ban on smoking cigarettes in restaurants, coffee shops were caught in no-win legal bind. Let the guests light up cannabis, something they could legally do in a coffee shop, and risk citation, heavy fines escalating to suspension, seizure of assets and/or closure. Ban smoking completely and they have to close their heavily regulated and taxed doors anyways. Most are practical business people and no one wants to be the industry's test case.The immediate question raised, was does this ban apply to coffee shops? The initial reaction from all sides in the debate was, yes, it does, because no one smokes pure marijuana. It would be too strong and painful for the lungs so marijuana is routinely mixed with tobacco. "They are already strictly regulated and taxed," said Rob Milo, a senior partner with Holla Poelman in Tilburg, "yet no one is doing anything about interpreting this law." It seemed as if a line was drawn in the sand but no one knew where it was in a 'legal' dope selling business or when it was (or would be) crossed unless someone was arrested. Dutch police long ago decriminalised marijuana possession. If you have 5 grams or less they won't even confiscate it from you, "it's not worth the time and paperwork hassle" said Wouter Smits, a beat cop in the Red Light District. "If we spend our night chasing minor crimes, we cannot keep the area safe from pickpockets, burglars and other criminals."Milo represents a group of coffee shop owners, none of whom would agree to be interviewed, but he said, "the law presents coffee shop owners with a conflict of obligations, their 1st is to abide by the tobacco law but on the other hand they also have to prohibit smoking marijuana on the street and cannot send people away smoking a joint. If these facts are somehow acknowledged in court then the owners would go free and coffee shops would be granted an exception." To date that has not happened.It is already a difficult business according to Milo because "a coffee shop can only have a maximum of 500 grams of cannabis on hand at any time so they must continually re-supply the shop and therein lays the real problem, the front door of the shop is heavily regulated but the back door (the supply chain) is not." The government conducts official inspections four times annually. They used to only check the coffee shop for health, safety and fire violations and the visits were without prior warning. But coffee shop owners have seen tougher inspections since before the law went into affect. Joop owns a coffee shop in a northern city and said, "since late last year local authorities have changed their policy and now not only conduct police and fire checks, but also bring city administrative and tax officers. Together they look into every room and are accompanied by police officers who do illegal searches and seizures."Said Milo, "it represents a change in policy, an infringement of his client's rights and is fundamentally unfair... they say they are coming to see if regulations are in order but indeed come to check for soft drugs." And the dilemma grows. No one wants to be the one to make this jurisdictional call. Said Milo, "you cannot complain to a judge - he will say you have to go to the government. You cannot complain to the DA because he says the same thing. The city also says the same. So the only place where we will ever get a definitive answer is The Hague. So I'm telling my clients to get everybody mobilised and let's go with a delegation to the Dutch Parliament's Tweede Kamer."Said an MP from Rotterdam, who wished not to go on the record, "it's happening everywhere in Holland and is very suspicious. It's almost as if it was discussed locally as a new policy... 'let's pretend we will conduct a normal check' but instead they arrive unannounced." Said Milo, "this is not OK if it's a tax check, why should someone from the city come unexpected? If fire safety conditions are in order, why can't they say we will be there in an hour? A building is either in good shape or not, one cannot fix a building or fire code violation in one hour's time so it is a case of entrapment. As long as the back door remains unregulated this game of cat and mouse will continue for years to come." Even when I remind him of the fuzziness of his legal standing, there is this over-riding fundamental sense of Dutch fairness. To date there have been no challenges but everyone still walks around on tenterhooks waiting for the first test case. Meanwhile guests continue to smoke combination cannabis and tobacco joints in the coffee shops. No one pays much attention, the cat and mouse game continues and the classic Dutch response to life remains, "what goes on in your home is your business." This journalist will be content to continue to follow both this story, and Bill Clinton's example. "I tried it once, but I didn't inhale."Complete Title: Dutch Smoking Ban Leaves Cannabis Coffee Shops In Legal LimboSource: Huffington Post (NY)Author: Denis CampbellPublished: December 5, 2008Copyright: 2008, LLC Contact: scoop huffingtonpost.comURL: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #25 posted by drfistusa on December 19, 2008 at 13:00:27 PT
what's the problem?
the tobacco smoke is what I don't like about Dutch coffee shops, In the U.S it is rare to ever mix tabacco in my 40 yrs. experience. In Holland they mix hash with tobacco, In the U.S we smoke in hash pipes or mix with pot. So that's BS about you can't smoke pure pot. the Dutch should just ban the tobacco and would that be a big problem to smoke pure pot?? I think not!
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Comment #24 posted by rchandar on December 09, 2008 at 09:43:38 PT:
It was 1997. I was walking down Warmoestraat, with 200 guilders in my pocket. It was about 12:30 in the afternoon. Suddenly I felt this pain in my leg, and looked up to face a huge man, about 6'5'', black hair, a European."Give me your money!""F#$k you. You're an ignorant son of a b #ch!"The dude heard someone's voice, and looked left. There was an old black man, smiling, talking to him.I yanked my leg out of his arm and started running.So you think crime didn't exist back then?--rchandar
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Comment #23 posted by ekim on December 08, 2008 at 17:04:09 PT
Virgl at Petes site said that woman in film was on 
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Comment #22 posted by ekim on December 08, 2008 at 16:38:10 PT
i would like to thank the good people at showtime
as it is a gift [[ so if i am able to see it how many others are able to -- wow thats cool
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on December 08, 2008 at 16:31:40 PT
Thank you. We might just watch it again. It was good when we saw it before.
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Comment #20 posted by ekim on December 08, 2008 at 16:21:13 PT
showtime has in pot we trust 
at 9:30 Rachel Madow had on a guest on Fri that said Henry Ford bought up the brewrys in MI for ethanol use in his cars.
donobouthat, but i bet David does.If you want more info on ethanol please listen to David Blume he will be on many radio stations this thursday.
to read more see;
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Comment #19 posted by Hope on December 08, 2008 at 16:20:25 PT
Basically human beings need to treat other people like human beings.I've had enough of killing and wars. Killing and wars need to be minimized. They need to be avoided.
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on December 08, 2008 at 14:28:50 PT
I thought the article in comment 13 was good. Thank you. Hopefully after Obama is sworn in our news will pick up but for now I haven't seen anything interesting to read or post. I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. 
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Comment #17 posted by rchandar on December 08, 2008 at 06:48:30 PT:
There's just absolutely no chance we will ever "win" the War on Drugs unless we basically take away all citizen rights--as those countries do. Otherwise, drugs are here to stay. The question is, what effect do they have on our society? Do we build criminal empires and the endless cycle of exploitation and fear? Do we grow our police forces until every neighbor is a cop, and our fear is even more?Or, do we legalize it, regulate it, and control it, thereby limiting crime, thereby giving addicts free access to treatment and counseling, and thereby controlling the supply so that our product is clean and safe, and users do not live in fear, whether they are 70 years old or a college freshman? These are the questions I hope we address in the coming years.Everybody, it seems, wants to fight a war. Everybody in America has gone to some war--usually, one they invented in their head.The main problem in Holland is that the press mishandles these issues--anything promising prohibition immediately leaks to the foreign newspapers, and is published in several major cities, over a period of one to two months. So the "danger" of ending coffee shops is made to seem an imminent threat. Which jibes with the thinking of many "good citizens"--a victory is coming, we will win this war, that kind of thing.Keeping people in ignorance of the facts is just as bad as stripping people of their basic rights. But, as I said, without that kind of war, there will never be any "victory" in the WOD, just degrees of losing--mostly, among people who can least afford the losses--of family, of work, of community, of the public trust. It's not winnable, any more than a nuclear war is "winnable."--rchandar
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Comment #16 posted by Hope on December 07, 2008 at 22:55:44 PT
"Short of turning into Thailand, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan, and killing tens of thousands of crooks--cannabis is there to stay."There's been a lot of immigration in the Netherlands over the years. Do you suppose one of the freest and healthiest societies ever to have existed on earth, not perfect, but doing better than most ever have, is being changed by the kind of thinking that makes the aforementioned countries so controlling and cruel towards each other? 
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Comment #15 posted by gloovins on December 07, 2008 at 20:06:26 PT
I learned that 
tobacco is a bronchial restrictor while cannabis is a bronchial dialator...maybe I'm wrong. I can sure tell you I know the difference when the two hit my nose. Most assured I know when my lungs get it.I also think that tobacco smoke is a cancer causing substance so that's why it's banned here in Calif public bars & restaurants. It's really the best way to go because then you are free from lawsuits from non-smoking employees who get smoking related illnesses. Burbank has taken it further & banned all smoking in public. $500 fine if caught but they sell em in the gas shops & in the grocery stores? That's pretty restrictive...probably the most in the US today. Their attitude too is "what you do in your home is your business..." -- just not in public otherwise they want your $$$. I wonder if they make you tour the morgue & look at a tobacco smokers lung if you get caught "smoking" in Burbank? This of course coupled with the fine...because they really care about you, right? Right.I do like walking around Burbank though I have to admit. Damn easy to breath there now.It's the politics of it all that gives me the headache. But alas, we have a remedy for that...;)
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Comment #14 posted by rchandar on December 07, 2008 at 19:37:01 PT:
What I Remember
I firmly believe that Holland's coffee shop policy will hold, if only for negative, perhaps sad, reasons. If you were to read the posts at, a much tougher war is being raised on growers in Morocco, in the Rif Valley--the Secretary General claims he has reduced the area under cultivation from 220,000 hectares to about 60,000. If you were to go to Amsterdam, the price of Moroccan hashish is much higher--about 50-60 EUR for a 5 gram bag, where it may have been about 35 EUR about seven years ago.What this means--cannabis growers in Europe are trying to take over the market. They have a good product with few impurities, and no overhead cost for smuggling and bribing cops along the way. It's a big change--once upon a time, a coffee shop meant hashish. And anywhere else in Europe, polm was super-popular. Now, a lot more people are buying weed, it's cheaper and doesn't have impurities or chemicals in it. If you read what the Dutch government has been turning over, it's pure nonsense. Back in the 90s there was a heavy concentration of gangs and crime in Holland--these things are not new! They also make the claim that cultivation has gone from mostly small growers to big cartels. This is foolish nonsense, just untrue, a pack of lies meant to scare people into thinking something very bad will happen. For example--one time I was staying in the "Last Waterhole" and the bartender was discussing how many plants he could grow before it turned into a felony. On the other side of the street was another ex-grower, who barely escaped being busted because he was growing 80 plants--the result was that this place, once a coffee shop itself, became a hotel. Crime has always been big there, they are sensationalizing something that they themselves have not taken steps to solve. They are trying to convince you that cracking down will "solve" the problem of drugs--it won't, unless you destroyed the entire idea of legal representation and fair trials. Short of turning into Thailand, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan, and killing tens of thousands of crooks--cannabis is there to stay.And don't exercise too much freedom with the Dutch cops. If you're in the wrong, it will be clear, and you won't like it. Otherwise, a wonderful country that I'd recommend to any smoker.--rchandar
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Comment #13 posted by The GCW on December 07, 2008 at 18:56:03 PT
Interesting / Vital Republican and Democrat info
Health-care reform could kill the GOP
Thomas Frank on, Dec. 3Can policy be both wise and aggressively partisan? Ask any Republican worth his salt and the answer will be an unequivocal yes. Ask a Democrat of the respectable Beltway variety and he will twist himself into a pretzel denying it.For decades Republicans have made policy with a higher purpose in mind: to solidify the GOP base or to damage the institutions and movements aligned with the other side. One of their fondest slogans is žDefund the Left,Ó and under that banner they have attacked labor unions and trial lawyers and tried to sever the links between the lobbying industry and the Democratic Party. Consider as well their long-cherished dreams of privatizing Social Security, which would make Wall Street, instead of Washington, the protector of our beloved seniors. Or their larger effort to demonstrate, by means of egregious misrule, that government is incapable of delivering the most basic services.That these were all disastrous policies made no difference: The goal was to use state power to achieve lasting victory for the ideas of the right.On the other side of the political fence, strategic moves of this kind are fairly rare. Instead, for most of my lifetime, prominent Democratic leaders have been chucking liberalism itself for the sake of immediate tactical gain.Conservatives have always dreaded the day that Democrats discover (or rediscover) that there is a happy political synergy between delivering liberal economic reforms and building the liberal movement. The classic statement of this fear is a famous memo that Bill Kristol wrote in 1993, when he had just started out as a political strategist and the Clinton administration was preparing to propose some version of national health care.žThe plan should not be amended; it should be erased,Ó Mr. Kristol advised the GOP. And not merely because Mr. Clintonís scheme was (in Mr. Kristolís view) bad policy, but because žit will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests.ÓHistorian Rick Perlstein suggests that this memo is žthe skeleton key to understanding modern American politicsÓ because it opens up a fundamental conservative anxiety: žIf the Democrats succeed in redistributing economic power, weíre screwed.Ó
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on December 07, 2008 at 18:41:17 PT
I believe in what I call public morality. I do my best to respect how others feel when I am doing anything in public. If a person goes out in public and gets drunk and takes his clothes off and parades down the street that isn't fair to other people that will see his episode. Just having basic common sense public morality laws would do. 
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Comment #11 posted by rchandar on December 07, 2008 at 18:39:32 PT:
This story is almost like tradition, what with the CDA repeatedly promising closure of coffee shops. Here's what happens--over and over again, for the past six years:Someone--a minister, the PM, a German or French minister--demands Holland close its coffee shops, or stop smoking in the shops, or close half of them. We run around like headless chickens thinking it's really going to happen. Until, it doesn't happen.Then--some left politician proposes legalizing cannabis, gains some support, and then is flagged by the CDA for "not following international treaties." So this, too, doesn't happen.Recently a CDA minister--after many of them had said the same--proclaims that the "soft drugs policy" is "not working" because it "supports organised crime". They insinuate that these are dangerous hoodsters who threaten Holland's way of life, and that innocent citizens are being exposed to crime.I first went to Holland 12 years ago. Let me tell you: it isn't as if Michael Corleone was born during that time. They had organized crime then, they have it now.Then--the shops go berserk about new regulations, closures, the statements of the Parliament. All this means is--no change. Same policy.And finally--the threats from other European countries who claim that their people are flooding into Holland to get drugs and bring them back, thereby destroying their countries--what a crock. Cannabis cultivation is at an all-time high in France, Germany, UK. And: the general trend in EU drugs policy means to decriminalize the use of cannabis, while keeping selling illegal. It's all mish-mosh. They raise their fingers and point out the culprit, but it's all BS. In Belgium, you can have 3 grams or a plant. In Berlin, 10 grams. In the Czech Republic, 5 grams. And in Spain, for private use is decriminalized.The US has frequently criticized this policy, but when push comes to shove there is not anything they can do, simply because Holland isn't a player in the smuggling of drugs into the US--it comes from Asia, Latin America, Canada, the Caribbean. But seldom, from Europe--the exception of ecstasy. And thus, the US and the Netherlands have a "good" relationship when it comes to drugs policy.Don't be scared. Holland is a fine country, even in the cold.--rchandar
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Comment #10 posted by The GCW on December 07, 2008 at 18:31:16 PT
I remember reading somewhere, that Americans can not live without a prohibition.Cig prohibition would be a mistake.But can America stop one prohibition and not create another? Too many neighbors who are too concerned about what other poeple are doing. Too many want to control what they don't like other people doing.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on December 07, 2008 at 17:51:16 PT
I don't believe smokers should contaminate the air of non smokers. I don't like snooty non smokers and I don't like abrasive cigarette smokers either. The way they are pushing bans on cigarettes might lead to prohibition of cigarettes if we don't watch out. They take and take and finally consume what they want. Imagine going to jail for smoking a cigarette. What's next? People who might be a little overweight? Can you imagine a new agency called the bureau of tobacco and obesity.
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Comment #8 posted by The GCW on December 07, 2008 at 17:26:58 PT
I think I understand how You feel from what You said.I agree and felt it was wrong for people to ban cigarette smoking in Colorado.On the other hand, it doesn't quite tell people they can not smoke cigs; it says they can not smoke in public places where people are not all smokers. So restaurants are not filled with cigarette smoke which I can tell You I absalutely hated. It made Me gag. If I happened to be seated next to someone who smoked after eating it would make Me very uncomfortalbe. That's over.I'm glad that I can go to a bar or restaurant and breathe.This year at the ski area I go to (A-Basin) they now have a rule or law that says people can not smoke in lift lines or on lifts. I remember being lift lines and all it takes is one person smoking for it to be hard to breathe; that sucked the fresh air out of My life along with other people's and people got tired of it. By the way, I live at over 9,100 above sea level where oxygen is already lower and when people smoke it really effects Us. A-Basin goes above 13,000'.Now this is where things change.People should have the right to go to places where people are allowed to smoke cigarettes.One of the nice things that used to exist is that restaurants chose to be either smoke free or not and there was a nice mix so a person like Myself could choose to avoid the smoke outs.To some extent, that situation worked well and gave most people some option.It was still a problem and where I live is a tourist type location so visitors sometimes ended up unhappy...-0-As far as Holland is concerned, and here, people should be able to use cannabis but don't have the right to fill places with cannabis smoke where people really don't want to breathe it.-0-Again, though, I don't want another cigarette smoker to rudely make Me have to breathe it.Cigarette smokers that think they have the right to smoke regardless of how people around them feel about breathing the stuff are inconsiderate.It's the same for cannabis, though if Holland has "coffee" shops that are created for smoking cannabis, then anyone who enters must put up with cannabis smoke or go to places that do not exist for using cannabis.In Colorado, they've tried to stop people from smoking in cigar bars etc. and that is wrong.Cigarette smoker diserve places created for cigarette smokers where if people don't like it they can go somewhere else.
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Comment #7 posted by Vincent on December 07, 2008 at 13:50:58 PT:
Coffee shops in limbo
I know that a lot of people on this board will disagree with me on this but, I don't agree with these cigarette smoking bans that have been springing up in the United States and elsewhere around the world. To me, it's an invasion of privacy. Not only that but look at what's happening in Amsterdam right now regarding the Coffee shops ever since they opened up this can of worms.
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Comment #6 posted by rchandar on December 07, 2008 at 11:45:28 PT:
This essay promotes the notion that the coffeeshop system is in big trouble, which it isn't. There was a "Cannabis Tribunal" at Den Haag where the judges and politicians concluded that banning cannabis would only encourage organized crime.Two: At a recent meeting of Dutch mayors, three cities agreed to "condone" cannabis farms in the hope that the cities could get rid of the illegal trade. It's a good idea, and since coffeeshops are licensed and governed by the cities (not the parliament), this idea could be of some value over the next few years.Three: CDA is the only party really against c-shops. True, the # has declined slightly, but for the time being they will remain open. What's good in all this: remember, guys. When a Democrat wins the Presidency in the US, Europe follows suit and elects similar parties. CDA's days are numbered. We will get our shot across the Atlantic.--rchandar
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on December 07, 2008 at 10:19:50 PT
If only...
we could inspect the bureaucrats' offices at any hour and take our tax money back if they're not working hard.
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Comment #4 posted by Storm Crow on December 07, 2008 at 09:55:13 PT
Ditto on the 'baccy!
Tobacco is fit for potpourris and killing insects! I tried smoking it at 13, (Mom's Salems!) vomited profusely and decided tobacco was NOT my drug of choice! The hubby just quit after 45+ years of smoking- he had a very rough patch with his health in October, and HE decided it was time. He hasn't had a cigarette for a month. The very first fight we had as a couple, was over tobacco. Day before payday, down to less than a dollar, no food in the house- I wanted to buy food, he wanted his dang Camels! I got some mac & cheese, he got Bull Durham (and sulked about it until he got his Camels 24 hours later).
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Comment #3 posted by CanadianGanjaman on December 07, 2008 at 01:43:27 PT
Agreed, The GCW. However...
Yeah man i cant handle pure tobacco either, but is it a possibility that in Amsterdam, the tobacco grown there doesnt contain as many pesticides, and other chemicals that make the plant hard to inhale in the first place? Perhaps a pure tobacco... rarely experienced in america, is actually as tolerable(enjoyable) as marijuana?
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Comment #2 posted by E_Johnson on December 06, 2008 at 22:26:47 PT
The global economy is collapsing
And people are still afraid of marijuana?They should be afraid of a global depression.They should get down on their knees and kiss the ground in front of these cannabis clubs for providing jobs and tax revenue.If things get bad enough, maybe some day they will.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on December 06, 2008 at 20:39:19 PT
EEKS! cannabis mixed with tobacco- YUK.
"no one smokes pure marijuana. It would be too strong and painful for the lungs so marijuana is routinely mixed with tobacco." My experience is different. Tobacco is far stronger and painful and makes Me about puke. I pretty much feel sick after inhaling tobacco. And I wouldn't do it except if someone spikes a joint.Which is another point. Government often tells of cannabis dangers due to the idea that cannabis might not be pure; it may be mixed with something. That something is more often tobacco, WHICH IS LEGAL. Mixed with tobacco, it becomes a highly addictive and lethal product.It's another reason for citizens to demand re-legalizing cannabis; so users may trust that it isn't mixed with anything. 
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