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Mayor Wants To Decimate Amsterdam’s Cannabis Industry

Amsterdam mayor, Femke Halsema says she wants to “combat fun tourism” by reducing the demand for cannabis.

According to the mayor, a large proportion of what she calls “fun tourists” is attracted to prostitution in the city center and the “enormous amount of coffeeshops”. That is why she wants to see whether it is possible to make these markets “smaller and more manageable”.

This is what mayor Halsema told local news channel AT5, when asked about the municipality’s aims to keep tourists out of the city center.

After the corona crisis, the municipality doesn’t want ‘fun tourism’ to return to the city. The intention is that establishments and shops will again focus more on the residents of Amsterdam. The municipality wants to achieve this by, among other things, introducing new rules and purchasing buildings.

Halsema says that she is now focusing on the coffeeshops. She sees that there are no fewer than 120 shops in the city center, a large part of which live on tourism. “It doesn’t mean that we just close coffeeshops. But we do try to steer the demand.”

Earlier this year the mayor told the same news channel that she had plans for a large erotic center or a prostitution hotel as an alternative to the city’s Red Light District: A five-storey building furnished as the erotic center of Amsterdam. Here visitor could not only visit sex workers here, but could also make use of catering facilities, a hairdresser, a beauty salon and a tanning salon. With room enough for about a hundred sex workers.

Although it’s well known by officials that most disturbances in the city center are the result of alcohol abuse, mayor Halsema did not mention the ‘Heineken Experience’, the beer fun house (with ‘tasting facility’) on the edge of the city center, where tours of the brewery grew to become one of Amsterdam’s most popular international tourist attractions.

Corona Measures: Amsterdam Coffeeshops Open With Restrictions

A slight panic struck Amsterdam’s 420 community when, in the late afternoon of March 15th, the Dutch government announced measures to curb the spread of the Corona virus. All establishments in the Netherlands, such as restaurants, bars and coffeeshops, were to be closed by 6 o’clock that evening, and were to remain closed for at least three weeks.

In a last-minute effort to secure something to smoke during the impending ‘drought’, people formed long lines outside the city’s cannabis shops. In those queues, which sometimes stretched for tens of metres along the sidewalk and around corners, patrons were not keeping distance from each other. To make matters worse, at some coffeeshops the people waiting outside were being preyed upon by street dealers who were handing out businesscards and promoting their merchandise as the soon-to-be only alternative.

However, the government took notice of the situation and in the course of following day the coffeeshops were allowed to open again – be it with restrictions: Takeaway only (no seats, no service, no toilet), everyone is to keep 1.5 metres distance from others and there is a limit on the number of customers that can pick up products that are allowed in the coffeeshop at one time for pickup.

On top of this, most reopened coffeeshops have added their own measures such as the placement of transparant screens on the dealer’s counter and distance markers on the floor.

Relaxing Restrictions

Prime Minister Mark Rutte recently announced the long awaited relaxation of most restrictions. In public buildings from June 1, a maximum of thirty people will be allowed per room. This means, for example, that movie theaters and concert halls can open again.

In addition, most establishments may also open on June 1st. There is no maximum number of people on the terraces but everyone should sit at a table and keep 1.5 meters apart.

Coffeeshops have to wait two months longer to fully open. They will be allowed to provide public access without capacity restrictions again from September 1st.

Had Too Much Space Cake? Amsterdam Tourist Doctor Comes To The Rescue

When doctor Van Ommeren is called during his night shifts, he must make a quick analysis. Does it sound urgent or can it wait a while? Then he cycles to the tourist’s residence, often in the centre of Amsterdam.

His medical service for international visitors has been around for three years now. After having worked in Australia for two years, Van Ommeren returned to the Netherlands and founded HotelDoc.

In a recent interview with newspaper Parool, Van Ommeren says that “a large part of the job consists of the classic cases for a general practitioner: stomach flu, airway complaints but also – what else – cannabis.”

Space cake is usually the culprit. According to the doctor, it is striking that it is often middle-aged people make the mistake of eating too much. “They want to try some but they’re not accustomed to much [of it’s effect]. They panic, get palpitations and think they’re dying. Yesterday I was with a patient who had eaten space cake and engulfed the entire bathroom in puke. It came up to the ceiling. It didn’t help that the partner also ate space cake and was also panicking, with one inflicting the other. The only thing I can do is reassure them. Then I do a few small tests, such as measuring blood pressure. It’s not medically necessary, but it helps to reduce the panic. I only leave when they are calmed down. Usually I say: tomorrow you will laugh about it.”

Coalition Agrees on Experiment with Legal Weed

The Dutch coalition parties have reached an agreement about an experiment with legal, government controlled cannabis. As planned earlier, six to ten municipalities will be conducting trials, but an additional six to ten municipalities are used as a ‘control group’. Moreover, the test can be extended if it proves successful.

During the trial, the coffeeshops involved will be allowed to have a larger trade stock (of marijuana cultivated by the state) than the current maximum of 500 grams. There will be a choice of different types of weed for customers to choose from and there will be no limit to the amount of THC, the active substance in cannabis. Should the experiment be a success, it can be extended.

A control group has also been added to the experiment. It consists of tolerated coffeeshops in the vicinity of the municipalities involved. The same measurements are made at these shops. On the basis of this so-called zero measurement, it can then be concluded whether the test with state weed was successful.

The decision is politically sensitive. The two christian democratic parties that are part of the current coalition agreed with a limited variant, which ten municipalities would participate in. But a research committee headed by Professor André Knottnerus ruled that this group would be too small for a ‘sufficiently representative survey’. The government should keep the experiment in ‘considerably more’ municipalities than the coalition agreement says.

The Committee also concluded that if the trial is a success, a national introduction of ‘state cannabis’ should be considered. The government does not want to do so for the time being, but the possibility to extend the trial does leave the door wide open.

Cannabis Liberation Day 2018

Come and celebrate the tenth anniversary of Cannabis Liberation Day with us on Sunday, June 17 in Flevopark, Amsterdam.

Cannabis Liberation Day highlights international cannabis culture and argues in favor of tolerance and broad use of hemp as a sustainable raw material and counteracts criminalization of the plant, cannabis consumers, coffeeshops and growers.

New at Cannabis Liberation Day this year is the ‘Cannabis Olympics’. There are ‘five playful games, including Bungee Run and Stonede Stormbaan [stoner obstacle course]’. The first 500 participants win a ‘cannabis medal’.

As usual access is free. Check www.cannabisliberationday.org for details.

Exhibition ‘Cannabis Cuisine’ at Hash Museum Amsterdam

Everyone knows you can eat cannabis. Space cake from Amsterdam coffeeshops is world-famous, but did you know life expectancy of residents in the Chinese town of Bama Yao is well above 100? Scientists believe the secret behind this long lifespan has something to do with their diet, which contains a lot of hemp seeds.

Although the cannabis sativa is mainly known for its flowers, which can be smoked, it is also proving to be a versatile source of nutrition. Nowadays, hemp seeds are available at any supermarket and in recent years, CBD oil has been on the rise as a nutritional supplement. In the exhibition Cannabis Cuisine (1 December 2017 – 25 February 2018), the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam explores the history of cannabis in nutrition, lists the healthy qualities of hemp and follows the latest trends in high cuisine.

Address: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 130, Amsterdam

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Birth Of The Coffeeshops

[…] I’ve always been fascinated by the origins of the cannabis tolerance movement in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. How did this happen? How did this little country develop the most intelligent approach to marijuana smoking in the entire world?

At the same time that Holland launched its tolerance campaign, we passed local legislation in Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Ypsilanti that limited marijuana crime punishment to a $5 fine, but our movement never went any further than that until medical marijuana was legalized in 2008.

Amsterdam and the Netherlands went on to establish a system that allowed hundreds of coffeeshops to serve marijuana and hashish smokers for what’s turned out to be almost 50 years.

Here’s how the Anne Bonney, writer of Cannabis in Holland—an Introduction: A Book of Cannabis Truths, says it happened.

HASH HITS EUROPE

     Along with the political and social unrest of the 1960’s came a huge explosion in the use of Cannabis and psychedelics. Another part of the cultural upheaval was travel.

Many young Europeans left the comforts of home or university to travel to the exotic East. In those days the world political situation was such that one could drive (or in some cases, hitchhike) from Europe to Tangiers, Delhi or Kabul and many did.

On their travels the young adventurers adopted many foreign practices—from meditation to vegetarianism and hashish smoking. Soon large quantities of hashish began to find their way back to Western Europe, with Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Copenhagen and other cities becoming consumption and distribution centers.

THE COFFEESHOPS ARE BORN

     By the early 1970’s there was widespread use of Cannabis, speed, heroin, LSD and other recreational drugs presenting various degrees of health risks to Dutch citizens….

The then Minister of Health and Interior, Irene Vorink….concluded that Cannabis was considerably less harmful than the other drugs….Vorink saw that the most common way for Cannabis users to be introduced to drugs “harder” than Cannabis was by the drug sellers themselves.

She took the step of recommending that the authorities stop prosecuting people for the consumption and sales of personal amounts of Cannabis. She then set up a system where access was provided to cannabis in a controlled setting. To do this, she took advantage of existing youth centers as places to permit the sales of small amounts of hashish and marijuana….

The basic concept of the coffeeshop as a place to buy and smoke Cannabis, hang out, have a (non-alcoholic) drink, chat or play a game, has been around since 1971.

That was when the first youth hostel started ignoring smoking and small-scale dealing. It was the government-tolerated selling and smoking in youth centers that provided the model for the coffeeshops of today.

Mila Jansen started a teahouse where people hung out, drank tea and smoked a nice spliff. The first joints were handed out for free as an extra with your cup of tea. Also, people from other countries brought back hashish and other products, so they could trade products with each other.

In 1973, Wernard and three friends opened a small “Tea House” called Mellow Yellow where a single “house-dealer” sold pre-bagged hash and grass from behind the bar rather than the old style where the house simply allowed deals and smoking to go on. Mellow Yellow also sold tea and coffee and had a table football game.

In 1974 Henk de Vries opened the Bulldog Coffeeshop, soon to become world famous, and openly sold hash [as] the first business to use the name “coffeeshop.”
[Note: The coffeeshops proliferated for 20 years until there were 750 or so in the city of Amsterdam alone by 1994, when the federal government began its campaign to regulate and control the traffic in Cannabis, demanding that coffeeshops apply for a license and adhere to the government’s coffeeshop rules:]

THE COFFEESHOP RULES (since 1996)

1. No advertising, including no Cannabis leaf motif in the window or on the sign.
2. No hard drugs, no buying, no selling, no possession, by owner, staff or clients.
3. No public nuisance.
4. No sale of more than five grams to any client on any day.
5. No minors. This means persons under 18.

If shop owners play by these five rules, the government will “turn a blind eye” to the fact that the business sells Cannabis. If any of the five rules are broken, then the shop owner becomes liable for a violation of the Cannabis laws [and subject to loss of license, criminal charges, and/or other punitive measures].

So those are the actual facts of the cannabis issue in Amsterdam and how it sank its roots into the general culture to insure that smokers would be able to get their sacrament. Now let’s have some coffeeshops in Michigan!

Here’s one last little factoid from the Cannabis and Coffeeshops pamphlet: Americans are generally fascinated by the way the Dutch, the British and Europeans in general mix tobacco with their weed before lighting up. I always thought this was because they started out on hashish and smoked it in a mixture with tobacco to keep the flame going. Then weed became available in the 1970s and 80s in large quantities and soon Europeans were smoking 2 grams of marijuana to each gram of hash while using the same mixture concept.

But, as the Grow Grrrlzzz point out, “At first, tobacco was a rare and special imported product, available only to the rich. The seeds were hard to find, of doubtful quality and nobody knew where or how to grow it in Europe. Eventually tobacco became available to enough people that the entire nation [of Holland] took up the craze.

“So, the frugal Dutch began stretching their expensive imported tobacco with the leaves and flowers of their hennep plants by the mid-1500s.” Wow. Free The Weed!

(excerpt from  John Sinclair‘s column FREE THE WEED 70. All Rights Reserved.)

Bubblers, Bongs, Pipes in Coffeeshops

Bongs have been used for thousands of years to ingest the active ingredients of cannabis. Based on the principle of sucking smoke through water to cool and cleanse it, using a tubular mouthpiece attached to a bowl.

Many coffeeshops provide bongs and pipes for public use or you can bring your own. If you’re unsure about how to use something the staff can help you, if they’re not too busy. Try and remember to clean the mouthpiece before use, and if you want to pick up some extra kudos with the staff, offer to clean the bong you just sucked on.

We do not recommend smoking bongs and large pipes in the street, but some larger parks may provide the perfect spot, using a sense of discretion and having respect for others around you at all times.

About Edibles

Cannabis is used around the world to transform well known dishes and snacks into totally new gourmet experiences. From gummy treats and cannabis laced candy, to pot pizza, flying lasagna, ice cream and cookies.

The term ‘edible’ is a slang term used among the cannabis community to denote ‘an edible cannabis product’. A small variety of ‘edibles’ are available at coffeeshops in the Netherlands, these include a standard slice of cake, or a muffin, usually in vanilla or chocolate flavors, and a variety of colors.

All ‘edibles’ in the Netherlands come with a label clearly indicating the amount of cannabis inside, which can range from 0.2 – 0.8 grams per item. The dose is calculated to produce effects which can last between two and four hours.

Please remember that edible cannabis is processed via your digestive system into the bloodstream, so what you ingested before and during the experience can have an effect. The experience is stronger on an empty stomach, and weaker after consuming foods high in sugar, which can be handy to remember if you want to return from orbit sooner.

The experience usually takes between 20 and 40 minutes to begin, compared with smoking which can be felt only a few seconds after inhaling. Take it easy.

About Dutch Medical Cannabis

In the Netherlands the Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) is the official government bureau that oversees the production and distribution of medical cannabis. It has a monopoly on all cannabis trade, import and export, and can decide on special exemptions to the opium act.

Within the Netherlands OMC distributes exclusively to pharmacies, pharmacy holding GPs, hospitals and veterinarians. Outside of the Netherlands they can also deliver depending on strict agreements between the associated authorities of both nations.

The OMC, in collaboration with the Dutch Health Inspectors, also supervise to ensure the medicine is not used illegally. Unlike the situation in America, cannabis in the Netherlands is prescribed by your local doctor, and picked up from your local dispensary.