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Weed Demand Outweighs Secret Supply Of Coffeeshops

Dutch Coffeeshops are under increasing pressure and scrutiny over the amount of cannabis stock they can hold, due to an ever growing demand for the drug. In general coffeeshops are allowed a maximum of 500 grams, which sells quickly in a busy shop. The supplier, known as a ‘runners’, may find themselves resupplying the same shop many times a day, risking arrest with every run, if caught in the street, or at their stash pad.

The paradoxical situation revolves around the back-door supply chain, which is illegal but tolerated under strict conditions, together with the question of where to store the stock (usually inside a secret room). Both these grey areas in the law leave coffeeshop owners in constant uncertainty, with the ongoing threat of prosecution. While the problem of nuisance in the cities increases as coffeeshops are closed. Welcome to the paradox of Dutch coffeeshop culture.

Coffeeshop ‘nemo’ in Rotterdam was the largest in the city, and it remains closed after two years since the authorities discovered excess amount of stock on the premises.

“After the municipality decided that no coffeeshops were allowed within a 250-meter radius of the school, 16 were closed. Many customers then came to Nemo. That’s why I had such a large stock.” said Mr. Ilonka Kamans, Lawyer representing coffeeshop Nemo.

Maurice Veldman, a lawyer in Amsterdam highlights a similar need for adjusting the stock limits in Amsterdam and points out that the municipalities of Utrecht and Maastricht allow for one kilo of cannabis stock, due to precisely this higher demand that is caused by the closure of so many coffeeshops. “The increase in demand is largely due to the closure of coffee shops […]”, Veldman said.

After 40 Years! Dutch Parliament Votes To Regulate Cannabis Cultivation

 

More than four decades after the decriminalization of cannabis use in the Netherlands,  the Dutch parliament finally voted to also decriminalize the cultivation of cannabis. This vote opens the way for regulation of the coffeeshop supply chain.

Regulating the slupply of weed to the coffeeshops would end an ongoing contradiction, as a coffeeshop is allowed to sell cannabis within the legally tolerated limits, but its suppliers are not allowed to grow, import or sell cannabis products to the coffeeshop: “The front door is open, but the backdoor is illegal.”

For 40 years, suppliers of coffeeshops and the coffeeshop owners have risked prosecution due to this deadlock.

The new measures were drafted by Vera Bergkamp of the liberal D66 political party, and passed 77 votes to 72. “This is an important step to end a stalemate that has lasted far too long.” Bergkamp told Dutch press.

Due to the slim margin of votes in favour of the new legislation, and the reshuffle of parliament after the 2017 general election, it’s possible that new policy maybe derailed, slowed down, or haulted. For example, present prime minister Mark Rutte, who’s liberal-conservative party is currently leading the polls, does not support the new measures.

Coffeeshops Legal or Permitted?

Amsterdam is known to be a liberal city. Although many people exaggerate the freedom here, the Amsterdammers and Dutch in general do have a few liberties that are unique in the world. Still, whenever you visit a city in a foreign country it is always a good idea to inform yourself about the local laws and rules. In Amsterdam’s case this can be a difficult task, therefore this article will try to inform you about the basics of the Dutch legislation and specific things you should know about Amsterdam and its Coffeeshops.

In the Netherlands we distinguish between two types of drugs: soft and hard drugs. By law both of them are illegal, but the use and possession of small amounts of soft drugs is decriminalized and regulated. This led the Dutch to having a unique drugs policy in the world. Although the use of addictives in general is discouraged, the Dutch politics reasoned that cannabis does not have physically addictive qualities, and are not more harmful than, say, alcohol. Therefore the Netherlands allow limited forms of possession and trade in soft-drugs.

The specific rules are as follows:
• You are allowed to purchase and possess up to five grams of cannabis. Possessing more is interpreted as if you want to trade it, which is illegal.
• Only specially permitted “Coffeeshops” are allowed to sell soft drugs, and never more than five grams per person per day. You have to be 18 or over to access a Coffeeshop.

The paradox in the Dutch drugs policy is that the growing and trading of large amounts of soft drugs is illegal and not allowed, yet Coffeeshops still need to buy their stock. This phenomenon is referred to as the “back door/ front door” paradox: Coffeeshops are allowed to sell (and pay taxes for it), but can not legally buy stock.

It is not illegal to smoke outside the Coffeeshop, but things have changed over the past few years, and it is no longer acceptable to smoke cannabis just everywhere.

Restricted areas around Central Station and the Red Light District have a “zero tolerance” policy. In other areas in Amsterdam where it is forbidden to smoke Marijuana, official “no-pot-smoking” street signs will indicate this clearly.

Although you are not expected to know local regulations, you might very well risk a fine when smoking in these areas.