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Amsterdam Still In Lockdown, Coffeeshops Open For Takeaway

Update January 20: Today, the Dutch government announced that it is imposing a national curfew in the Netherlands. The prime minister also announced several other new measures, including a travel ban for 17 countries. The curfew will be in effect between 21:00 and 4.30. Anyone caught outside without a valid reason within this time frame will be fined. Coffeeshops will remain open for takeaway.

Amsterdam is still in lockdown until at least Tuesday February 9.

Venues such as museums, theatres, amusement parks, zoos, casinos, saunas, indoor sporting venues, and establishments serving food and drink (including in hotels) are closed throughout this period. Shops such as clothing stores, shoe shops, jewelry shops, and shops selling craft supplies are also closed.

The government’s aim in this regard is to limit contact between people as much as possible. Supermarkets, bakeries, butchers, and other shops where food is sold remain open, as are establishments such as pharmacies, chemists, and petrol stations.

Coffeeshops are allowed to stay open for takeaway until 8 PM.

Basic Rules

The basic rules remain the same. Everyone must stay 1.5 meters apart from people they don’t live with. Wash your hands often, including when you arrive somewhere and before eating. Also, wash your hands before rolling a joint or touching weed or hash.

Mayor Proposes To Ban Tourists From Amsterdam Coffeeshops

Mayor Amsterdam Proposes Ban Tourists

Mayor Femke Halsema of Amsterdam proposes to ban foreign tourists from the coffeeshops. According to her, these visitors cause too much annoyance.

“In recent years we have noticed that the demand for cannabis in Amsterdam has risen sharply”, she explained to the public broadcaster NOS. “This is mainly due to tourists from abroad.” According to Halsema, those tourists come to Amsterdam almost exclusively for the coffeeshops and cause a nuisance in the center of the city. “Amsterdam is an international city and we want to receive tourists, but we prefer them to come for the richness and beauty of the city and for our cultural institutions.”

Weed Pass

The only way to keep tourists out of the coffeeshops is to have coffeeshop patrons prove that they are Dutch. This means Halsema has to install an admission system based on residency prohibiting tourists from entering cannabis establishments in Amsterdam. This disconcerting forethought means that the dreaded weed pass will come into play again.

Prior to the curtailed introduction of the weed pass in 2013, some of the fiercest opposition to such a system came from the green party (GroenLinks) in Amsterdam. Their defiance paid off because, even though the new policy was eventually introduced nationally, it was never implemented in Amsterdam or other major cities in the Netherlands. This compromise (the introduction of a new, nationwide policy of which the actual implementation and enforcement would be left up to the individual municipalities) was partly due to the efforts of the GroenLinks party in Amsterdam. Until this day, no one in Amsterdam needs to have a weed pass to visit a coffeeshop.

With GroenLinks being the largest player in Amsterdam local politics after the elections of 2018 (and with that the supplier of the city’s current mayor), it’s remarkable to see that this insane and offending weed pass now might be introduced after all.

Cultural Institution

Since the 1970s, the sale of cannabis in small amounts for personal use is tolerated by the Dutch government. The coffeeshops are allowed to sell weed and hash under strict conditions. However, the production and supply of cannabis remain illegal. Despite this paradoxical status quo, Amsterdam became the shiny, international beacon for cannabis culture. An ever-evolving culture that has been celebrated since the days of the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

Today cannabis is not part of the counterculture anymore. It has exceedingly become a part of the mainstream culture. It finds its established traditions and heroes abundantly represented in art, literature, popular music, and film and has a rediscovered, contiguous history that leads back to some of the earliest traces of human civilization. What more does a “cultural institution” require to be to meet the mayor’s standards?

New Corona Measures: Coffeeshops Open Till 8 pm For Takeaway

Most 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 takeaway until 8 p.m.

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

Holland Is Looking For Talented Weed Growers

The Dutch government is looking for growers to participate in a nationwide weed experiment. Farmers who want to take part in this national cannabis experiment can register from July 1st.

Despite popular belief, cannabis is not legal in the Netherlands – it is decriminalized for personal use and its sale by specialized coffeeshops is formally “tolerated” by the Dutch authorities. Although producing and trading cannabis remains illegal in the Netherlands, the sale of weed to the public by these coffeeshops is “illegal, but not punishable”. This pragmatic approach is subject to debate.

Currently, the sale of weed is permitted by coffeeshops, but the purchase and production are not allowed. Regulating the supply of weed to the coffeeshops would end an ongoing contradiction, as a coffeeshop is allowed to sell marijuana and hash within the formally tolerated limits, but its suppliers are not allowed to grow, import, or sell cannabis products to the coffeeshop. As one coffeeshop owner commented: “The front door is open, but the backdoor is illegal.” For more than 40 years, suppliers of coffeeshops and the coffeeshop owners have risked prosecution due to this deadlock. The closed coffeeshop chain experiment should clarify whether legal supply, purchase, and sale of cannabis are possible.

To qualify, growers must comply with the general conditions set by the national government. Among other things, they must submit a business plan and be able to submit a Certificate of Good Conduct (VOG). A maximum of ten cannabis growers is selected. The quality of cannabis will be monitored. The diversity of the supply will also be checked to make sure that there will be a sufficiënt choice for the end-consumer. Potential pot growers have to be able to produce at least ten different varieties of weed and/or hash to qualify.

With this trial, the government says it wants to solve the problem that coffeeshops may sell soft drugs, but cannot legally obtain their store stock. Last year it was decided that there will be a trial with ‘legal’ cannabis cultivation in these ten municipalities: Almere, Arnhem, Breda, Groningen, Heerlen, Hellevoetsluis, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Tilburg, and Zaanstad.

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.

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.

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.

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.

About Vaporizing

Vaporizers in Amsterdam

Besides smoking, vaporizing is a popular way to consume cannabis in Amsterdam coffeeshops. With a device called a vaporizer you can heat up weed and sometimes hashish, to a specific temperature at which the active ingredients in cannabis evaporate. This temperature (229c) is well below the point of combustion, keeping the weed from igniting.

In short, a vaporizer more-or-less  ‘steams’ your weed as opposed to burning it. Thus, when vaporizing the active ingredients, no smoke is created. People who do not smoke may still ”vape”.

In the Netherlands, some coffeeshops have in-house vaporizers which are offered as a free service, if you purchase something from the weed counter.

Over the years a number of smaller, hand held vaporizers were developed that make it possible to vape’ out and about. These devices are usually USB charged. While some versions are made specifically for dry herbs, other models allow for the use of concentrates like wax, shatter and honey oil.

Vaporizing is arguably less damaging than regular smoking, producing less second hand smoke, and it is a preferred method for medical cannabis users.

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.