Posts

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.

Professor Of Criminology: ”Stop Closing Coffeeshops”

”The municipality should not close any more coffeeshops in the city centre, even if they are too close to a school.” says Dirk Korf, professor of criminology.

Research conducted by Korf at the Bonger Institute for Criminology, affiliated with the University of Amsterdam, concludes: “It’s too busy in the remaining coffeeshops.”.

While the government claims one of the major objectives of the Dutch drugs policy is to : ”diminish public nuisance (the disturbance of public order and safety in the neighbourhood)”, the lines with waiting costumers outside the still existing coffeeshops are getting longer each year..

“Due to the crowds it is hardly possible to provide information.” says Joachim Helms, the president of the association of cannabis attorneys, who echoes the findings of Professor Korf.

Korf, professor of criminology, recommends that Amsterdam should not close any more coffeeshops in the inner city, even if they are too close to a school. “The policy must be haulted” he says.

A city spokesperson announced that the report will be discussed by the Mayor of Amsterdam and his staff.

Amsterdam Saves 44 Coffeeshops From Closure

Dutch coffeeshop owners went to court last week in a last ditch bid to block a government plan to stop foreigners from buying marijuana in the Netherlands.

Lawyers representing the coffeeshops oppose what would be the most significant change in decades to the country’s famed soft drug tolerance: turning marijuana cafes into ‘members only’ clubs open solely to Dutch residents.
Members would only be able to get into the coffee shops by registering for a ‘weed pass’, and the shops would only be allowed a maximum of 2,000 members.

The move comes into force in the south of the country May 1 and is scheduled to roll out nationwide on Jan. 1, 2013.
Whether it will be enforced in Amsterdam remains to be seen. The city has strongly opposed the pass idea and Mayor Eberhard van der Laan says he wants to negotiate a workable compromise with the country’s Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten.

Lawyers for the cafe owners told a judge at The Hague District Court that the move — aimed at reining in problems caused by foreign ‘drug tourists’ who buy marijuana in the Netherlands and resell it in neighboring countries — is “clearly discriminatory”.

Lawyer Ilonka Kamans argued that Dutch drug policy gives citizens “the fundamental right to the stimulant of their choosing” and should not deprive visiting foreigners of the same right.
Government lawyer Eric Daalder defended the measures. “Fighting criminality and drug tourism is a reasonable justification” for the crackdown, Daalder told the court. He said the government wants to bring coffeeshops back to what they were originally intended to be: “small local stores selling to local people.”

Marc Josemans of the Easy Going coffee shop in Maastricht said that if the courts April 27 ruling goes against them, the local coffee shops plan to disregard the ruling, forcing the government to prosecute one of them in a test case.
Though the weed pass policy was designed to resolve traffic problems facing southern cities, later studies have predicted that the result of the system would be a return to street dealing and an increase in petty crime — which was the reason the tolerance policy came into being in the 1970s in the first place.

Marijuana cafes are a major tourist draw for Amsterdam, with some estimates saying a third of visitors try the drug, perhaps in between visiting the Van Gogh Museum and other major attractions.

According to U.N. data, the use of marijuana by Dutch nationals is in the mid-range of norms for developed countries — higher than in Sweden or Japan but lower than in Britain, France or the United States.