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New Corona Measures: Coffeeshops Open Until 8 p.m. For Take-Away

Many measures against covid-19 were relaxed during the summer but now the Netherlands introduced a new range of restrictions to control a second coronavirus wave.

As part of these new restrictions, the sale of alcohol is prohibited after 8 p.m. After that time it is also not allowed to carry or drink alcohol or smoke weed in public places.

Coffeeshops are allowed to stay open for take-away until 8 p.m.

The new measures also makes the wearing of cloth masks mandatory for people 13 years and older in indoor spaces. Standing measures, such as keeping 1.5 metres distance from others, still apply as well.

Coffeeshops Amsterdam Fully Open Again!

Good news! Coffeeshops in Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands will fully open again from July 1st.

Coffeeshops were still open for take-away, but from next week they’ll be allowed to offer seats and full-service again. Bars and restaurants in Amsterdam have been open since the 1st of June and, although earlier the government decided coffeeshops had to wait until September before they could reopen,  it looks like there is no reason to keep coffeeshops closed any longer.  Standard measures against coronavirus (such as the direction to keep 1.5 metres distance from each other) still apply.

Amsterdam Coffeeshops Are Open, These Are The Rules

These are the obligated measures taken by the Amsterdam coffeeshops against coronavirus:

– Coffeeshops are open and permitted to sell weed and hashish at a take-away counter.
– They must be able to arrange this logistically and also observe all hygiene measures prescribed (such as maintaining a 1.5 metres distance between people).
– Customers are now only allowed to pick up weed and can not stay in the coffeeshops or use the shop’s facilities.
– Delivery is not permitted.

Update: Bars and restaurants in Amsterdam will open again on June 1st. Coffeeshops will be allowed to offer full service again on July 1st. Until then they will remain open for take-away.

Stay safe everyone.

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 coronavirus. 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 some weed or hash in order to have something left 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 targeted by pushy street dealers who were handing out business cards and promoting their merchandise as the soon-to-be only available alternative. However, the local government took notice of that and quickly recognised the potentially harmful side-effects of a complete coffeeshop lockdown. After some deliberation, it was decided that in the course of following day the shops would be 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 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 transparent screens on the dealer’s counter and distance markers on the floor.

Relaxing Measures

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 theatres 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.

Dutch Christian Party (CU): No More Weed for Tourists!

CU en wiet

If political party the ChristenUnie  (CU) has her way, customers of Dutch coffeeshops will have to show an extract from their Personal Records Database records (BRP) before they can buy any weed. This proposed measure aims to ban tourists from coffeeshops and limit the acces to weed to Dutch residents only.

The idea is not new. The Dutch central government already gave municipalies the option to ban non-Dutch from their coffeeshops, but municipalities are allowed to determine whether they want to implement this rule. Many towns and cities, such as Amsterdam choose not to implement the ban and still allow tourists and other visitors of the Netherlands to buy and enjoy weed at its coffeeshops. The ChristenUnie wants to change that now. The party wants Justice and Security, minister Dutch to discuss the issue with the municipalities.
“At the moment, the Netherlands is known as the country where you go to get off and use drugs,” says MP Stieneke van der Graaf (CU). “That is horrible and shameful and I want to do everything to break that image as a drug country.”

Drugs and drug tourists cause too much trouble in our country, the politician believes. “Keeping tourists away from coffeeshops is a good start to tackle that nuisance.” Van der Graaf also considers it important that all municipalities apply the same criteria. “Otherwise you are only moving the problem.”

Illegal circuit

Ferry de Boer from the BCD, a branch organization for coffeeshop entrepreneurs, does not think that keeping tourists out of coffeeshops is a good idea. According to de Boer, the demand for cannabis does not disappear and this way you only chase consumers into the street. “This has already been happened in the city of Maastricht, where [after the ban] the number of illegal outlets has increased enormously.” An increase in illegal trade is not desirable for anyone, De Boer says. It would only aggravate the nuisance.

The coffeeshops were created to separate drug markets [to separate hard drugs from soft drugs consumption], he says. De Boer sees the refusal of tourists as a step back. It dates back to the time when there were hardly any coffeeshops. Then everything was sold from the illegal circuit and the Netherlands faced a major heroin problem. “There were parts of Amsterdam where you couldn’t walk as an ordinary citizen,” he says. With the arrival of the first tolerated cannabis, the situation changed. “The tolerance policy displaced the hard drug trade” with the coffeeshop as “safe haven”.

According to Van der Graaf, the increase in street trafficking of cannabis in Maastricht was not so disproportionate that it is a reason not to maintain the resident criterion. “The police were prepared for this and the illegal trade was quickly suppressed. Of course we have to take this into account, but it is not an argument for the long term. ”

Lots of police work

De Boer believes that closing the coffeeshops for tourists, and the associated growth of the illegal market, will cause major problems. “Maintaining something like this is going to require a huge amount of police work, and there is already a shortage of thieves.” In addition, making it mandatory to show a BRP would raise the threshold to go to a coffeeshop. This could also force the Dutch on to the illegal market.

It is not yet clear whether the minister will respond to the call of the ChristenUnie.

Budget Space-Cake

Amsterdam can be damn expensive, so for those wishing to get high on a budget we suggest homemade space cake.

Step 1: Do some research. If you have not tried smoking cannabis before, please do not dive straight into making your own space cake. Edibles purchased at a coffeeshop are made with a strict and precise dose, so for first timers we recommend space cake from a coffeeshop.

Step 2: Get some soft blond hash, or the least expensive ‘soft’ hash available, avoid black hash, it sticks to your teeth easily.

Step 3: Purchase your favorite muffin, brownie or even a chocolate bar for around 1 euro or less.

Step 4: Taking care, split the candy bar in half using a knife or your fingers, if possible.

Step 5: Sprinkle the hashish on half the candy bar. (Coffeeshops generally put 0.3 grams into space cakes, aim for a similar amount.

Step 6: Enjoy the journey, and please remember to keep something sweet on your person, in case you get too high and wish to maintain a lower altitude.

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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.)

Five Tips On Scoring Coffeeshop Kudos

You’re at the coffeeshop, finally getting high. So now here’s a few tips to help impress the staff, and the customers with further exemplary coffeeshop conduct.

1. Hide your tobacco from sight. Coffeeshops are under strict no-tobacco laws, and can face fines if it’s discovered by city authorities. Maybe remind your friend or neighbor too, hide it bro.

2. Bring back your coffee cups and bottles, and ashtray, to the bar. You’ll be saving staff  a trip to clean your table. A general rule of thumb is to leave the table as you found it.

3. Tip well if you can, especially if you borrow a bong or vaporizer which requires a little extra work for staff. Don’t worry if you can’t tip, it’s all good. Make it known how much you appreciate the service vocally, ‘Dankjewel’ sounds like: (Dank-Yer-Vell)

4. If somebody rings your phone, have a little courtesy and take the call outside.

5. Keep the noise down to a minimum. It’s fun to laugh and shout and sing when high, even dance, but please, try to remember that coffeeshops are not booze-bars where you can perpetually scream. Please try to consider the others, way out-there in orbit around you. Cool beans.

Three Places In Amsterdam Where You Can Roll Up Besides Coffeeshops

In Amsterdam there are quite a few places that don’t sell weed yet allow you to roll up freely. Here you can enjoy a toke, and feast your senses on the delights these 420-friendly establishments have to offer.

1. Bars and Restaurants

Restaurants
There are coffeeshops in Amsterdam where top-notch breakfast, lunch or diner is served daily, but even more exclusive are the restaurants that don’t sell cannabis, but cater for smokers specifically. A great example is Munchies restaurant where meals are served along with a well packed vaporizer, if you so desire.

Bars
Beer and buds, whiskey and weed? It’s all possible at Amsterdam’s smoker-friendly bars. In these establishments you can’t buy weed, but they’ll let you roll up. Many bars even have complimentary papers available. For example: The Doors Palace, Batavia, The Wonder Bar, Barnies Uptown, Susie’s Salon, Cafe Soundgarden, Kashmir Lounge, and Lost In Amsterdam. (a word to the wise: keep your cigarettes out of sight in any bars or coffeeshop).

2. Clubs
Back in the day, most clubs and venues in Amsterdam would let you smoke on the dance floor, but after a new tobacco law took effect, tokers found themselves exiled to the smoking area, together with the cigarette fans. Smoking joints is generally fine in the smoking areas but if you have your doubts, just ask (or smell).

3. In Public
It may come as a surprise, but once you’re outdoors in Amsterdam you can smoke weed almost anywhere (with the exception of the Red Light District and Central Station). You can light up at a picnic in the park or during a stroll along the canal, there’s no rule against smoking in public albeit, with common courtesy.

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.