Dutch coffeeshops can keep on serving foreign cannabis consumers
Nol van Schaik
The recent news about the possible exclusion of foreigners from the Dutch
cannabis coffeeshops raised quite an up stir, worldwide!
I have the habit to protest against any anti coffeeshop and cannabis
propaganda, and not only because I happen to be the co-owner of three
coffeeshops, I have a problem with prohibition.
After doing some digging on and downloading from the Internet, I found out
that Minister Donner has no right to exclude foreigners from purchasing
marihuana or hash in our widely criticised coffeeshops, he is just trying
to stay friends with the Germans by making promises he cannot keep. Here
is what I dug up, and the Dutch coffeeshop regulations.
Just keep all coming to the Netherlands to enjoy cannabis in coffeeshops,
the boogie man does not exist..
Dutch coffeeshops: Current legal status.
The latest commotion around Dutch cannabis coffeeshops, caused by the
criticism of Germany's Minister of the Interior, Otto Schily, leads people
to believe this will automatically lead to the measurements suggested by
the new Dutch Minister of Justice, Piet Hein Donner.
I will try to explain the legal status of the Dutch cannabis coffeeshops.
According to the 2003 figures, there are now only 782 THC coffeeshops left
in the Netherlands.
All of these coffeeshops are allowed to sell cannabis, through a tolerance
permit, they all pay taxes over the sales of cannabis.
Justice Minister Donner is clear about coffeeshops: He does not want them,
and will try everything in his power to get them all closed. He promised
he will close half of the Dutch coffeeshops, who are to close to schools
and other buildings where young people are concentrated, and for other
violations of the AHOJG regulations for coffeeshops.
This is bluff, Minister Donner knows that he can not close one coffeeshop,
he can only ask the city-councils and Mayors to act as he wishes, for only
local authorities have the power to act against the coffeeshops in their
municipality. The Dutch Government only set out the guidelines for
Holland's coffeeshop policy, it is up to the local authorities to work out
a policy for their city, town or village. The CDA, Donner's political
party, and the biggest party in the Netherlands, stands alone in their
urge to go after coffeeshops and cannabis, all other parties in the Dutch
Parliament are for a more progressive stance towards the substance and the
trade in it. Only the municipalities with a CDA lead City council and
Mayor might be subdue to Donner's wishes, in case they have any
coffeeshops. Only 107 out of Holland's 496 municipalities have
coffeeshops, so the black market serves the largest part of our country,
even today. That would be the channel that could serve the foreigners, in
case Donner's scheme would have worked, as they serve the under 18's
already. About 46 % of the Dutch cannabists buy their softdrugs in
The CDA believes in the gateway theory, meaning they think that cannabis
is the first step to the use of hard drugs, the reason they want to close
the coffeeshops. This makes them so tough to convince, it is easier to
argue with the wise, than it is to argue with the ignorant.
Minister Donner is heavily overplaying his hand, he already promised
German Minister Schily that he would tell the Dutch coffeeshops to no
longer sell cannabis to foreigners, specifically Germans. The City
councils involved, those along the German border, and Venlo in particular,
do not agree with Donner. Venlo has 5 registered coffeeshops, and recently
launched the plan to open two more, close to the German border, to keep
the traffic out of the city centre. Venlo is afraid that Donner's plans
will cause more dealers on the street, and wants to talk to Donner on
short notice, about the consequences of his ideas.
Other cities from the border area, Nijmegen, Hengelo and Enschede clearly
state that foreign visitors of the coffeeshops do not cause any problems
at the moment. These cities will not comply with Donner's plans, they want
peace and quiet in their communities, and freely accessible coffeeshops.
The Dutch Federation of Municipalities (VNG) will await Donner's concrete
proposals first, in order to be able to check the stance of the member
cities and municipalities.
The 'border problem' can only be solved by opening coffeeshops in Germany,
Minister Donner should tell Minister Schily that, instead of licking up to
him. Like the CDA, Minister Schily is a believer in the Gateway Theory,
ignorance is not bound by borders.
The registration system, as Minister Donner wants it, will implicate that
all coffeeshop will have to become members-clubs, register their, Dutch
only, visitors as members and issue them with a members pass. Only people
with such a pass should be allowed to buy and use cannabis, foreigners
without a pass can only enter the coffeeshops, drink coffee and watch the
Dutchies do their thing, smoking cannabis in a safe environment. This
system would not only exclude Germans, but every non-Dutch person, even
This will not work, because such a system would be against the Law, says
Ruud Galle, a professor in Members-Clubs Law. He says it might be the
system to regulate the business, buy allowing a maximum number of members,
who can buy a maximum quantity of cannabis. But you cannot refuse members
on nationality, that is DISCRIMINATION. Galle also predicts that Donner's
plans would lead to the creation of new channels. Members that can buy
cannabis can then sell it to others, for example.
This means, that any foreigner could join up as a member of a Dutch
coffeeshop club, and buy and smoke cannabis in there. Let's save ourselves
the time and money, and invest that in a nice joint, instead of filling in
a form and walking around with Donner's Dopey ID.
Belgium, on the other hand, recently allowed their cannabis-consuming
citizens the possession of 3 grams of cannabis, and to use it in private.
Their Justice Minister, Verwilghen, said that he would not allow the sales
of cannabis in Belgium, anyone who wants it, should go to a Dutch
coffeeshop. Minister Donner never addressed him about that, although the
coffeeshops on the Belgian border are flushed with herds of Belgian and
Verwilghen was clearly in violation of the A of the Dutch AHOJG rules, he
was promoting all Dutch coffeeshops!
It appears that Donner is not very smart, he shouts all kind of things
about and against coffeeshops, then comes up with a couple of weird plans,
which all turn out to be non-executable, legally and technically. Holland
has a clown running the Justice department, and an adult Harry Potter for
Prime Minister, but they are not very entertaining, their lack of
competence is boring and disturbing.
One of the Dutch parties in the opposition, Groen Links (Green Left),
knows all the facts that Donner either ignored or did not know, they made
an excellent report about the use of drugs in the Netherlands, based on
facts and figures of official statistics and research. They suggest to
take cannabis out of the penal system, and to regulate the use of other
drugs efficiently, for the better of Dutch society, and to inform the rest
of the world of the good results of the Dutch policy.
Groen Links should ask the parliament if Minister Donner was informed
about the standing of the Netherlands in drugs consumption worldwide,
before he started selling us out to Germany.
My coffeeshops are open for everybody above 18 years, and we sell cannabis
to every nationality, we might refuse right wing politicians.
The Dutch Coffeeshop regulations, or the: AHOJG rules in English:
A : the A means : NO Advertising or promotion for the sales of softdrugs.
No more weed leafs on the front of coffeeshops, in some cities it is even
forbidden to have your logo and address printed on your lighters ! No
stickers, no T-shirts, no ads.
H : the H stands for : NO Hard drugs on the premises, not for sale and not
for personal use. The shopkeeper and staff have to be real sharp on this,
the police are!
Coffeeshops do not allow problematic hard drug users in, for that reason,
their personal stash could mean a yellow card for the coffeeshop, on a
O : the O stands for NO Overlast, which word actually means: Disturbing of
the peace, like to loud music, customers being to loud on leaving the
premises, etc. This rule goes for all bars, discos, cafes and restaurants
too, and are common in Dutch Leisure and society.
J : The J is your Y, for NO Youths, they are not allowed in under 18 years
Coffeeshops should be on a certain distance from schools and youth
centers, varying from 150 to 250 meters, in different municipalities.
G : The G stands for NO Big Quantities, coffeeshops are not allowed to
sell more than 5 grams, per person, per day. Coffeeshops are allowed to
stock a maximum of 500 grams.
Groen Links Report:
Nol van Schaik.