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Top Three Amsterdam High Views

The Netherlands are generally very flat, and while it’s easy to get high in a coffeeshop, it can prove tricky getting high geographically speaking. Here are some recommended vista points in Amsterdam, if you’re searching for that extra uplift.

1. Amsterdam ‘Look Out’ is a unique observation platform situated high atop the Amsterdam Tower in the North of the city, and only a two minute ferry ride across from Central Station. For thrill seekers there’s the ‘Over The Edge’ swings, the highest in all of Europe. Not for the feint of heart at over 100 meters high.

2. The Nemo ‘Science Museum’ is a large green building that looks like a boat, only five minutes walking distance from central station. There are steps leading up to the top deck where you can sit and enjoy the panoramic vistas of Amsterdam North, East and West. If you’re discrete, you can put one in the sky for old captain Nemo and Jules Verne.

3. Amsterdam Library was recently moved to a new building just to the left, when walking out of Central Station. The stunning library features a restaurant on the top floor, which leads out to a viewing balcony to enjoy the sights.

Juneau, Alaska’s ‘New Amsterdam’?

Could Alaska’s capital, Juneau become one of the biggest destinations for pot tourism in the world? The City and marijuana retailers are hopeful.

If the state allows smoking lounges, Juneau’s city manager says Alaska’s Amsterdam could be even bigger for pot tourism than the real one.

“We want to be the Amsterdam of Alaska,” said Giono Barrett, co-owner of Rainforest Farms, a cannabis store in downtown Juneau. “There’s a lot more going on up here for adventure, they want to see mountains and whales and an ocean and glaciers. So, we have all of that right out of our port– you can access it within 20 minutes of getting off your ship– including the cannabis.”

It’s an attraction with a catch. While it is legal to buy pot in Juneau, there’s no legal place for tourists to smoke because cruise ships sail in federal waters. “Since it’s a federal crime, that’d be a big problem,” said cruise ship passenger Greg Smith, of California.

(Full story: http://www.ktva.com/juneau-amsterdam-alaska-759)

Amsterdam Style Coffeeshops In Las Vegas?

Several US states have legalized recreational use of cannabis but no state has yet created a state-sanctioned place for adults to legally consume cannabis. This leaves many consumers with no place to enjoy legal cannabis as no state permits public consumption. A bill in Nevada could make it the first state to allow for cannabis clubs.

”One can imagine a few social use clubs fitting in on the Las Vegas strip. Las Vegas could become the US-version of Amsterdam or Barcelona, where cannabis consumers can enjoy their product at a cafe or bar”, says Daniel Shortt from Cannalawblog.com

Senate Bill 236 would grant cities and counties authority to issue licenses to businesses wishing to allow cannabis use at their premises or to hold special events where cannabis use is permitted. Cities and counties would have the ability to establish an application process and create rules for these businesses. These businesses could not be located within 1,000 feet of a school or community facility, defined as a daycare, playground, public swimming pool, recreation center, place of worship, or drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility. Businesses could not allow consumption of marijuana in public view and could not allow individuals under 21 to enter the business or special event where marijuana is consumed. These licensed businesses could be the cannabis clubs that recreational states have been missing.

Legalization initiatives in California and Maine may allow for cannabis clubs, but those states have not drafted regulations addressing cannabis clubs. Alaska experimented with the idea of cannabis clubs but ultimately has not permitted such clubs. Oregon and Washington explicitly prohibit consumption of marijuana at a place of business. Some towns and counties in Colorado allow private clubs where individuals can consume cannabis but they are subject to local rules and regulations. For example, the City of Denver passed Initiative 300 last November to allow businesses to permit cannabis consumption, but the program has yet to be fully implemented.

(Full story: http://www.cannalawblog.com/cannabis-clubs-will-nevada-lead-us)

Race For Holland’s First Drive-Through Coffeeshop

Amsterdam’s New West District and the City Council have given the green light for the opening of a new coffeeshop near Sloterdijk Station.

Local news channel, AT5 reports that according to district manager Achmed Baâdoud, it will be a ”drive-in coffeeshop”, where you can pick up weed in your car, like a fast food drive-through.

A previously proposed drive-through coffeeshop by The Bulldog met with  fierce opposition. This was because the location of the coffeeshop in the capitol’s harbor area was too close to schools. But this does not apply to the location at Sloterdijk station. “There are no schools and residents affected by the arrival,” Baoudoud explained to Dutch newspaper de Telegraaf.

Utrecht

In the city of Utrecht, music producer and activist Chris Pilgram proposed a drive-through coffeeshop as a solution to concerns of some people in the city regarding coffeeshops and cannabis tourism.

Pilgram’s citizens initiative maintains that a drive-through coffeeshop located near the outskirts of the city, would help prevent ‘weed shoppers’ heading into the heart of the city, providing an alternative, licensed cannabis outlet.

Pilgram campaigned for over 10 years to open a drive-through, but has encountered resistance from officials who he feels have held up the plan for spurious reasons.

Recently however, ruling political parties VVD, D66 and SP gave their support to the idea, and now even want to “speed up” the process. The Mayor of Utrecht, Jan van Zanen stated that he will come up with a adequate response to the situation very soon.

Rotterdam

Meanwhile the SP in Rotterdam proposed its own plan for a  drive-through coffeeshop to help solve the problems of long coffeeshop queues, street traffic and extra road traffic in their city . These nuisances are the given reason for closing nine coffeeshops in Rotterdam over the last six years.

A majority of the municipality’s council has voted for a  two-year trial with a cannabis pick-up point, which is intended only for costumers with a motor vehicle. “In any case, let’s try to see if the pressure on the coffeeshops in our city will actually decrease, as the initiators suspect,” says local SP Chairman, Leo de Kleijn.

“Cannabis Has Been Wronged For Years”

“Cannabis has been wronged for years”, says Janna Cousijn, researcher at the University of Amsterdam. “toking every day does not have to be a problem.”

Cannabis use has been thwarted by stereotypes for decades, ranging from false claims of it causing uncontrollable sexual impulses and murderous insanity, to it creating a whole generation of lazy, good-for-nothing ‘slackers’.

Biological Psychologist, Neuropsychologist, Cousijn, has been conducting rigorous studies on the effects of cannabis use, in her role as assistant professor in Clinical Developmental Neuroscience. She explains to Amsterdam newspaper Parool: “A lot of cannabis research compares tokers with non-users. I look at differences within the group of regular tokers; people who smoke weed almost every day. I’ve found that some are addicted and have problems, and some don’t. Rough estimates say that half are fulfilling a job, with a family, and the other half are getting into trouble.”

Cousijn says her latest study helps to distinguish between regular cannabis users and those with a dependence. And at the same time tests the validity and clinical value of the laboratory research methods, in real-life settings. These studies help to advance knowledge on the underlying behavioral and neural mechanisms at play, and focus upon approach-bias within different contexts.

Remarkably, Cousijn, in a passing comment when asked if she uses cannabis herself, seems to play into the generalization which she refutes in her study, when saying: “No, never. I do not like to lose control. I always want to have the cleanest disposition of my own mind and body. Hard work may be my addiction.

Amsterdam Mayor: “Medical Marijuana Should Be Easier To Get.”

In a letter addressed to the Dutch senate, the Mayor of Amsterdam, Van Der Laan, reiterated that medical cannabis should be easier to get for patients.

Last September, Van der Laan notably lent his support to Rudolf Hillebrand, an Amsterdam AIDS patients who uses medical cannabis, and who’s house and medical garden is threatened by the housing corporation, Eigenhaard.

The Mayor suggests that consultation should take place between the parties involved, pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, with aim to make a clear and sensible policy, obviously beneficial for the patients.

The new Dutch coalition government is currently under reformation, and considering the details of policies that will effect regulation of medical cannabis cultivation, and the coffeeshop supply chain, among other issues.

Coffeeshops in the Netherlands

New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam was even more festive than usual this season as thousands of European visitors flocked to the city to enjoy what they believed would be the last night they’d be welcome in the coffee shops of the Netherlands.

For several months, the reigning Dutch government had been trumpeting the imminent demise of the old coffee shop regime as of Jan. 1, 2012, and the mainstream media were only too eager to amplify the message.

Under the mandated new rules, all existing Dutch coffee shops would be converted to members-only clubs strictly limited to the patronage of Dutch citizens and registered expatriates, and the dreaded “drug tourists” from all over the world would be barred from entry.

But after the border city of Maastricht and other municipalities in Holland demanded that the government delay its plans for at least a year, Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten announced in November that the system won’t be introduced nationwide until 2013.

At the same time, Opstelten insisted that cannabis cafés in three towns in the south of the country — Noord-Brabant, Limburg and Zeeland — will have to turn themselves into members-only clubs by May 1 of this year as a sort of pilot program for the new policy.

Coffee shop owners in Maastrict have already banned all but Dutch, German and Belgian nationals from buying cannabis products in an effort to appease the government, and the border towns of Bergen op Zoom and Roosendaal have gotten rid of their coffee shops altogether.

Elsewhere in the Netherlands, 16 coffee shops In Rotterdam have been shut down because they were located within 250 meters of schools. If this proscription were applied across the country, another 94 coffee shops would have to close. To make things even worse, the government wants to extend the distance-from-school rule from 250 to 350 meters, which will shut down even more coffee shops.

This whole mess started in 2006 when the city of Maastricht decided to ban tourists from the local coffee shops and a coffee shop owner was forced to close after two non-Dutch nationals were found on his premises.

In upholding the legality of the city’s action, The Netherlands’ highest court, the Council of State, appealed to the high European court — sort of the EU equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court — to issue a ruling that the Maastricht ban does not conflict with EU laws.

Last July, EU Advocate General Yves Bot said the Netherlands was within its rights to ban tourists from coffee shops. Bot said he considers the move necessary to “protect public order” and “reduce the nuisance caused by drug tourism.” In addition, Bot said, the ban would contribute to European efforts to combat the illegal drug trade.

In Amsterdam, the City Council opposes the introduction of the membership scheme. “We are concerned about the problems that will arise from large-scale street dealing,” one councilman said, adding that “there are also health concerns, because with street dealing we cannot monitor the quality of the soft drugs or the age of the buyers.”

The city had solved these problems in the early 1970s when it decriminalized recreational drug use and allowed the establishment of coffee shops as places where cannabis products could be sold and consumed in-house.

But the Dutch policy of tolerance has never been at all popular with most other European governments nor the draconian American authorities, and the social truce that has allowed over-the-counter cannabis commerce in Holland to flourish has always been an uneasy one.

The recent demonstration of official opposition to the coffee shop culture has been a long time coming, but now it looms large on the immediate societal horizon. The Christian Democratic party (CDA) that ruled in the 1990s and early 2000s and remains part of the current government has never fully accepted the “gray area” philosophy, and now that its coalition partners comprise the Liberals and the anti-Islam party led by Geert Wilders, the CDA is making its move with unprecedented confidence.

The intensified crackdown on the coffee shop culture seems to have been enabled by the findings of a government commission in 2009 that concluded hashish and marijuana are far more powerful now than when the “gray area” policy was introduced in the 1970s. (This increase in potency, of course, is the result of the rapid development of the Dutch growing community and its wizardry in generating new and ever more effective strains of marijuana.)

At the same time, according to the authorities, the bigger the coffee shop industry becomes, the more likely it is to come into the grasp of “organized crime.” To that end, the commission recommended cafés become smaller and should sell only to locals.

The illegal growing industry is thought to be worth some $2.6 billion a year, involving some 40,000 people in marijuana cultivation operations on what they call plantations, of which some 5,000 are busted each year. The Dutch government now intends to increase its efforts to drive “organized crime” out of the production and trade of marijuana and to seize the assets of convicted drug criminals.

The crazy thing is that, with marijuana cultivation and distribution remaining illegal, persons engaged in these activities are organized criminals by definition. If they really want to get “organized crime” out of the cannabis business, they would simply legalize marijuana completely and all that crime would just go away since it wouldn’t be “criminal activity” any longer.

The war against marijuana users and the cannabis culture is particularly absurd because there’s no social harm that’s ever been proved to result from viping beyond the possible inducements to race-mixing and guilt-free sexual activity that are proscribed by the orthodox religious order.

Here in Holland, the long-term tolerance of the cannabis culture has both created an atmosphere that attracts weed-smoking pilgrims to make up a significant portion of the local tourist economy and fostered a full-scale cannabis industry that generates billions of euros worth of business within the intimate confines of this tiny nation.

Accordingly, every knowledgeable person I have consulted about the issue continues to scoff at the notion that the state can transform the coffee shop culture by means of the pending legislation.

My friend and mentor Michael Veling, proprietor of the 420 Café and a life-long cannabis activist in Amsterdam, remains convinced that the year-long moratorium now in effect will no doubt end in a further extension of the truce rather than a victory for the suppressive forces.

“There is no way they are going to be able to demonstrate in the courts that ‘drug tourism’ constitutes a ‘public nuisance’ or a ‘threat to public order,’” Veling told me, adding that Justice Minister Opstelten, a Liberal Party member, will have to report back to the CDA representatives — who started this shit thinking they could finally win the battle — that he tried everything but it proved impossible to enforce their mandate and things will have to continue as before.

At any rate, Veling stressed, would-be drug tourists from America and elsewhere will definitely be welcome in the coffee shops of Holland for at least the entire present year. C’mon over, he said, we appreciate your business.

John Sinclair, founder of the White Panthers, is a poet. His latest book is ‘It’s All Good: A John Sinclair Reader.

February 3rd 2012.

Source: CounterPunch Editorial

John Sinclair talks Amsterdam Coffeeshops

FREE THE WEED 57

A Column by John Sinclair

Highest greetings from Amsterdam at the beginning of the traditional Cannabis Cup week, where for the first time since 1988 there will be no High Times Cannabis Cup in the marijuana capitol of the world and no Thanksgiving Day awards for the best weed grown in Holland.

I first came to Amsterdam for the 11th Cannabis Cup in 1998, where I served as High Priest and performed at the Melkweg club nightly with my band of Blues Scholars from New Orleans. I had such a good time that I begged High Times to bring me back the next year, and that’s when I fell in with Michael Veling of the 420 Café. He sponsored my visits to the Cannabis Cup for the next three years and convinced me to relocate from New Orleans to Amsterdam after the 16th Cup in 2003, offering me a more or less permanent base of operations at his coffeeshop ever since.

So I’ve been on hand for the past 16 Cannabis Cups in Amsterdam, long before the legalization of medical marijuana in America and the establishment of what are now several Medical Cannabis Cups in the U.S., plus full-scale Cannabis Cups celebrating legalized marijuana in the states of Colorado, Washington and Oregon. They even have a Medical Cannabis Cup in Clio, Michigan that has caused quite a bit of excitement for smokers in the Flint area for the past two years.

But there’s no more Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, the home of its origin. The International Cannabis Cup was moved to Jamaica this year, where weed has finally found official acceptance, and was held in conjunction with the local ganja community as “Rastafari Rootzfest” last month at a space, the magazine says, “just a few yards from Negril’s gorgeous Seven Mile Beach where warm sunshine and spliffs ruled the day.”

High Times reports that “several thousand” persons attended the “Rastafari Rootzfest” last month, certainly netting the sponsors a tidy sum in admission (or “judges”) fees. And the money-making aspects of the original Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam have been shifted to the ever-growing number of medical and recreational Cups in the U.S.A., where the costs don’t involve shipping a staff of people across the ocean every November and dealing with the transportation arrangements of 1200 or more so-called “judges” in a foreign country each fall.

So it’s very interesting to be in the coffeeshops of Amsterdam this week in the absence of the Cannabis Cup and the hundreds of eager marijuana tourists it has brought from the U.S.A. and around the world every Thanksgiving week for the past 27 years. Business in the shops doesn’t seem to be suffering per se, but it’s quite a different vibe from that generated by the smokers on a mission who’ve been attracted by the High Times event every year since I’ve been coming here.

But now it seems to be back to normal, which is pretty hip to begin with, and several local coffeeshops have banded together to initiate their own festivities this year under the name of the Amsterdam Unity Cup, held at the Melkweg the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I attended the Tuesday event last night but there wasn’t anything happening at all except for a deejay in the Oude Zaal playing a lot of corny records at high volume to an audience of none.

My friend William, long-time cannabis manager at the 420 Café and its Dutch Flowers annex, explained that the group of coffeeshop people were taking an exploratory approach this year to see if they could make it happen in the absence of the traditional organizers, the High Times collective from New York City.

If all went well logistically, William surmised, the local cofffeeshop veterans would make a better publicized effort next year at this time to deliver on their promise to “bring you the people’s choice of the finest strains from the best coffee shops Amsterdam has to offer” while claiming that “he traditional dates have been taken over for the new annual Cup event in & aromund Amsterdam.” You can get more information at amsterdam-unity-cup.com.

The evacuation of Amsterdam by High Times represents an ugly victory for the city and the federal government in their lengthening campaign to shrink the cannabis business community in the Netherlands and try to shed the image of the world’s hot spot for drug tourism in the hope of attracting the more lucrative family-oriented tourist trade enjoyed by most western destinations.

Unlike the western United States, where the newly legalized cannabis industry is beginning a concerted effort to introduce normal Americans to the pleasures and benefits if marijuana in an effort to increase sales, the Dutch authorities want to drive the cannabis tourists away and shun their voluminous business which is said to amount to 25% of all tourism dollars spent here.

The present government seems to feel that the Netherlands have suffered for more than 40 years under the stigma of being the number one destination for marijuana smokers all over the world. The unique Dutch tolerance of the marijuana smoker as a full citizen is regarded with scorn and apprehension by virtually every western nation save Spain and Portugal. The highly civilized approach to marijuana smoking adopted by the Dutch hasn’t even begun to penetrate the thick skulls of the American authorities, who remain loath to allow smoking the sacrament on the premises where it may be traded.

I’ve related these facts before in this space, but the Dutch system allows the purchase and consumption of cannabis products on the premises of specialized cafes called coffeeshops, which are allowed to stock 500 grams of marijuana and hashish for sale over the counter. Consumers may purchase up to 5 grams of cannabis in a coffeeshop and take it with them—as in a Michigan dispensary—or enjoy the great local custom of taking a seat, sipping a coffee or juice drink, rolling up joints and smoking them alone or with friends, reveling in the companionship of fellow smokers in a warm and relaxed atmosphere.

This system has worked without fail for the marijuana smoker in the Netherlands since 1972 or so. Free-style marijuana coffeeshops were established and proliferated throughout Amsterdam without restraint (numbering 750 at the highest point) until the government decided the cannabis explosion had gone too far without the guiding hand of the authorities and began the process of registering and regulating the coffeeshpp industry about 20 years ago.

They’ve tightened things up considerably ever since, as I’ve reported in this column, until now there are probably les than 200 coffeeshops in Amsterdam itself. Tourists have been barred from frequenting coffeeshops and buying weed in quite a few smaller towns along the eastern border, and there’s even been an attempt to force Dutch smokers to register with the government.

When I left Detroit last month they were talking a lot of crazy shit about registering and regulating the 150 to 200 marijuana dispensaries that have sprung up in the city. What they need to do is convert the dispensaries to coffeeshops where people may gather peacefully and enjoy their weed and each other in peace. The City should enable as many shops to operate as possible, establish a modest licensing fee and tax the sales of products in the shops.

Otherwise, let us alone and let us have our smoke. FREE THE WEED!

—Amsterdam

November 23-24, 2015

© 2015 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.

 

Cannabis Liberation Day 2016

CANNABIS BEVRIJDINGSDAG: June 12th – 2016

Sprekers: Rick Simpson, Noll Van Shaik, Has Cornelissen.

Muziek: Will and the People (UK) Armand Tribute, Van Piekeren, Dramali, Iris Penning, United Sounds, Rupelsoldaten (B), DJ Skunkstar, Covenant Soundsystem
The eighth edition of the “protestival” Cannabis Liberation Day again drew hundreds of 420 enthusiasts to Flevopark in Amsterdam.

The revelers protested against the 40 year old policy of the tolerance of marijuana in the Netherlands, and called for all-out legalisation. Recent plans by the city of Amsterdam to start local experiments with regulated weed, grown and distributed under the watchful eye of City Hall, were met with healthy skepticism on the festival grounds. Organizer Derrick Bergman: “We are against ‘municipality weed’. We are all for regulation, we need more control, more clean weed without pesticides. But not from the goverment”

In the tradition of the annual Cannabis Liberation Day, the festival included a hemp market , a number of speakers, musical performances and the annual Cannabis Film Festival.

The scent of quality cannabis hovered above the crowd as an abundance of weed and hashish went up in vapor and smoke.

Mayor Of Rotterdam Speaks Out Against New Pot Policy

The mayor of Rotterdam has spoken out against the planned ‘wietpas’ policy, stating that the new system will lead to a rise in illegal drug dealing and make the streets less safe. Ahmed Aboutaleb says the wietpas is flawed and will create more problems than it solves. With this statement mayor Aboutaleb joins in skepticism with his counterparts in Amsterdam, Haarlem, Eindhoven, Breda, Maastricht and most other Dutch cities that allow coffeeshops within their borders; all of which have stated earlier that they do not see any merit in the planned new policy.

Mayor Aboutaleb told reporters that the wietpas would undo decades of investment and planning in developing communities; he encouraged the new government to scrap the planned policy. ‘It doesn’t work and it’s not going to work. It leads in practice to more problems in the community.’ Aboutaleb also pointed out that, “Very few people want to co-operate with the wietpas. They don’t want to register. I can understand why a lot of people are concerned, they wonder what their details will be used for. It’s logical.”