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Will new Dutch gov. close cannabis cafes?

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
Read on;

The new Dutch government and the possible consequences for the coffeeshop system.

What will happen to the Dutch coffeeshops under the new government, will these right-winged people shut all cannabis coffeeshops in Holland ?

That is about the general content of a question I get asked over and over again, the last few days, through my website and by phone, by press and worried cannabis tourists.

I think I have the answers and the arguments to prove this press created hype is just a hype, as a Dutchman with an interest in our national politics, and as a so-called ‘coffeeshopkeeper’, offering and selling marihuana and hash through my three registered cannabisshops in Haarlem, the Netherlands.

To start with the facts:

The CDA, Hollands biggest political party after the elections, are the only party against the coffeeshopsystem in the Netherlands, they now have 43 out of the available 150 seats in the Dutch parliament.In order to form a government, they need at least two other parties to create a coalition that can govern the country. The best possible partners for the CDA, a conservative catholic party, absolutely non-racist, are the newly risen LPF, List Pim Fortuyn, or LIST (26 seats), and the VVD (24 seats). Together, this coalition would have 93 seats, enough for the required majority in parliament.

The LPF and its recently assasinated leader, Pim Fortuyn, have been portrayed as extremely right-winged, by national and international press. This is far from the truth, Pim Fortuyn was an openly gay person, who made very blunt statements about his solutions for Holland, and especially about the immigrant problem.
The LIST’s second in command is a coloured man, Varela, and there are more cultures represented in the party, they were completey in line with Fortuyn’s political view.
Pim Fortuyn had a view on coffeeshops too, he saw no problem in them, as long as they pay taxes, and admitted he smoked occasionally after this statement.

The VVD, who are not really keen on being in the new government, have been part of the Purple coalition for the last 8 years, when they were in charge of the parliament. During this period they created and maintained the coffeeshoppolicy as it is still in use today. I do not see how they can change their stance overnight, IF they decide to take part in the CDA’s most wanted possibility.

Hollands drugspolicy is well known throughout the world, and had a load of criticism over the last decades, especially from the USA and France, but managed to withstand the international pressure. Results and figures have proven the Dutch policy right, the Netherlands still have drugproblems, but they have been succesfully contained and regulated.
This resulted in the ‘Dutch system’ to be the best possible way to go about with drugs and its users, focussed on the separation of softdrugs (cannabis) and harddrugs (heroin, cocain, etc.). This separation was meant to keep young people, experimenting with cannabis, away from the users of harddrugs, by allowing the sales of cannabis from registerd outlets, the so-called coffeeshops.

Even the CDA will not be serious about closing the cannabisshops, as I prefer to call them, the international press make us believe they will.
The reasons for not closing the cannabisshops are numerous, I will mention the most important arguments for maintaining or improving the current policy on cannabis.

Closing all cannabisshops would eventually lead to ending all other experiments with drugs, like the needle exchange and the succesfull distribution of free heroin to registered problematic harddrugsusers. This alone would lead to a rapid comeback of pity crime in the streets of the Netherlands, wich has been succesfully reduced by the Methadon/free heroin program, over the last few years.

Closing all cannabisshops would mean that cannabis would get back in the hands of those dealing in all drugs, resurrecting the dismantled stepping stone theory, being realised by shoving soft- and harddrugs back together in one corner.

Closing all cannabisshops would also bring back organised crime in the cannabis culture, as they will be the alternative to feed the demand for any drug on the market. Cannabisshops are supplied by homegrowers, on a basis of mutual confidence and trust, their input is about 75 % of all cannabis in Dutch cannabisshops. Homegrown cannabis has excluded organised crime from the supply line to cannabisshops, foreign hash lost its 95 % marketshare over the last decade !

Closing all cannabisshops is practically impossible, all Dutch cannabisoutlets are registered leisure companies, with a permit to sell drinks and snacks. No government can close the businesses as such, they can only try to forbid to sell cannabis from them.
That would cause a problem for the authorities, because the cannabisshops would go back to the old-fashioned way of ‘dealing’, through a person on a table in the place, who has no connection with the business, when asked. That was the way it was done before the so-called cannabismenu’s were introduced, and that is the way that will always work.
It would mean that cannabisshops would not be able to pay tax anymore, as the income from cannabis can no longer be booked in, it would incriminate the entrepeneur.
It would take at least two police officers per coffeeshop, per day, to try and prevent the sales of cannabis from cannabisshops, with a police force that has a chronic shortage of police officers already.

Aiming to close all cannabisshops is going back to the jungle, as the trade in drugs on the street is called, and would ruin all previous efforts made to shape and execute the Drugpolicy as it is today. The Netherlands have the best results in regulating drugs by far, mainly because the use of drugs do not resort under the Justice Department, only the trade in drugs is their responsibility.
The use and abuse of drugs are the responsibility of our Health Department, their taking part in the Drugpolicy is meant to protect the health of the druguser, by offering help and support, in finding or creating a solution for the intended user’s drugproblem.

Balkenende, the leader of the CDA, and probably our new Prime Minister, has stated he wants to end the ‘tolerance culture’ in Holland, and mentioned the coffeeshops and illegal immigrants in ‘black’ labour as examples. He never stated he wants to close the Dutch cannabisshops, that is what the press distilled from his words.

Ending the ‘tolerance status’ for cannabisshops could mean two possible solutions :

The first one is the doom scenario the press is creating, the new Dutch government close all cannabisshops, period.

They would have to have good reasons for that, a ‘tolerance staus’ is meant to experiment with something that is actually illegal, but so commonly done, that upholding the Law on such a situation would be practically impossible. Prostitution was tolerated for 65 years !, before it was fully legalised a few years ago, no political party ever tried to forbid prostitution, they always tried to find the best possible way to regulate the flow of commercial sex and the connecting industry.

If the last 28 years of allowing the small sales of cannabis from registered outlets have been an experimental phase, it is about time to end the ‘tolerance status’, and to act after the outcome of the results of the long-running experiment.
Cannabisshops do not mean any harm to Dutch society, on the contrary, they succesfully separate the two markets, cannabissales only, no harddrugs on the premises.
The figures are in favour of cannabisshops, not against them, as many people seem to think, especially compared to all alcohol outlets in the Netherlands, there is no violence whatsoever in cannabisshops.
If the new government does want to end the ‘tolerance status’ for coffeeshops, they can only go for full legalisation, and it would comply with Balkenende’s wish, no more tolerance !
The stance of the murdered Pim Fortuyn, the founder of the LIST (LPF), on cannabisshops was very clear, he had no problems with them, if only they pay their taxes…. All Dutch cannabisshops pay taxes and all businessrates, they employ a lot of staff, thusway contributing to the Dutch society, as any other business.

Ending the tolerance system for cannabisshops can only lead to legalisation, not to the enforced closure of the businesses, there is no legal nor social reason for that, unless Balkenende wants to ruin the best administrated Drugpolicy in the world.

Cannabis entrepreneurs are used to working in a grey area, any adjustment will be made to keep cannabis available through cannabisshops, no matter what it takes.

Nol van Schaik,
co-founder of the UK's Dutch Experience cafes!

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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Wouldn't it be ironic if they did?


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