Dutch coffeeshops can keep on serving foreign cannabis consumers.
The recent news about the possible exclusion of foreigners from the Dutch cannabis coffeeshops raised up quite a 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 existÖ.
Dutch coffeeshops: Current legal status.
The latest commotion around Dutch cannabis coffeeshops, caused by the criticism of Germanyís 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 Hollandís coffeeshop policy, it is up to the local authorities to work out a policy for their city, town or village. The CDA, Donnerís 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 Donnerís wishes, in case they have any coffeeshops.
Only 107 out of Hollandís 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 Donnerís scheme would have worked, as they serve the under 18ís already.
About 46% of the Dutch cannabists buy their softdrugs in coffeeshops.
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 Donnerís 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 Donnerís plans, they want peace and quiet in their communities, and freely accessible coffeeshops. The Dutch Federation of Municipalities (VNG) will await Donnerís concrete proposals first, in order to be able to check the stance of the member cities and municipalities.
The Ďborder problemí 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 Eskimoís.
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 Donnerís 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. Letís save ourselves the time and money, and invest that in a nice joint, instead of filling in a form and walking around with Donnerís 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 French cannabists.
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 check up.
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 of age. 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.