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the Netherlands

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director April 27, 2012

    While Amsterdam coffeeshop owners hope to be able to work out a political compromise to remain open for non-Dutch, it looks like the rest of The Netherlands will quickly move to embrace these court-ordered changes to their business model.

    Let’s hope that this past High Times Cannabis Cup Awards will not be the last!

    From the Huffington Post

    THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Long famous for “coffee shops” where joints and cappuchinos share the menu, the Netherlands’ famed tolerance for drugs could be going up in smoke.

    A judge on Friday upheld a government plan to ban non-Dutch residents from buying marijuana by introducing a “weed pass” available only to residents.

    The new regulation reins in one of the country’s most cherished symbols of tolerance – its laissez-faire attitude to soft drugs – and reflects the drift away from a long-held view of the Netherlands as a free-wheeling utopia.

    For many tourists visiting Amsterdam the image endures – and smoking a joint in a canalside coffee shop ranks high on their to-do lists along with visiting cultural highlights like the Van Gogh Museum.

    The city’s left-leaning Mayor Eberhard van der Laan is hoping to hammer out a compromise with the national government.

    Coffee shops also have not given up the fight. A week ago they mustered a few hundred patrons for a “smoke-in” in downtown Amsterdam to protest the new restrictions.

    A lawyer for owners, Maurice Veldman, said he would file an appeal against the ruling by a judge at The Hague District court, which clears the way for the weed pass to be introduced in southern provinces on May 1.

    Read more here

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator November 23, 2011

    Early this morning, Dutch authorities raided the HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam.  UPDATE from HIGH TIMES Magazine:

    According to representatives for HIGH TIMES magazine, sponsors of the 24th Annual Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, the event will continue tonight with a scheduled concert at the Melkweg concert hall (Lijnbaansgracht 234), followed by a full day of the expo (including voting) at the Borchland (Borchlandweg) on Thursday, the final day of the competition. An additional voting station will be set up starting at 2PM on Thursday at the Melkweg, which will remain open until the beginning of the official Cannabis Cup awards ceremony at 8PM. (read more)

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    According to the East Bay Express:

    …police in Amsterdam are in the process of raiding the 24th annual High Times Cannabis Cup Expo. Possession of marijuana has been decriminalized in the Netherlands. But according to tweets on the scene, “everyone will have their buds confiscated, but no one will be charged or fined. This is the first time this has happened in 24 years.”

    We broke the news on NORML SHOW LIVE this morning and spoke with Tim Martin of John Doe Radio, who has been in contact with numerous attendees in Amsterdam, including Scott from Rare Dankness Seeds, who called in live to the show (listen here).  According to Scott, much of the Dutch concern is over the concentrates – butane hash oil, for instance – that is considered a “hard drug” in Holland.

    “They herded everybody toward one exit, like you’re getting on a ski lift at Vail… then one by one they had about 40 cops there for a little talk and search… People were dropping grams and grams of hash on the ground… baggies littering the floor… people were smoking it if you had it because you weren’t rolling out with it!”

    According to Scott there has been one arrest of a vendor who was caught with a lot of “shake” (leaves and stems) which, according to Dutch law, are to be immediately disposed of.  Other reports indicate that there were checks of individuals to ensure they weren’t violating the 5-gram personal possession limit and checks of vendors for compliance with the 500-gram vendor possession limit.

    It should be noted that none of this is precipitated by any change in Dutch law.  These limits on personal and vendor possession, disposal of trimmings, and prohibitions on cannabis concentrates have existed throughout the 24-year history of the Cannabis Cup.

    What has changed is a new, more conservative government in the Netherlands that seeks to “send a message” about cannabis use.  They began with the closing of border coffee shops to all but Dutch, Belgian, and German passport holders, claiming that “foreign drug tourism” was leading to a host of social ills.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 10, 2011

    The Israeli government this week formally acknowledged the therapeutic utility of cannabis and announced newly amended guidelines governing the state-sponsored production and distribution of medical cannabis to Israeli patients.

    A prepared statement posted Monday on the website of office of the Israeli Prime Minister stated: “The Cabinet today approved arrangements and supervision regarding the supply of cannabis for medical and research uses. This is in recognition that the medical use of cannabis is necessary in certain cases. The Health Ministry will – in coordination with the Israel Police and the Israel Anti-Drug Authority – oversee the foregoing and will also be responsible for supplies from imports and local cultivation.”

    According to Israeli news reports, approximately 6,000 Israeli patients are supplied with locally grown cannabis as part of a limited government program. This week’s announcement indicates that government officials intend to expand the program to more patients and centralize the drug’s cultivation. “[T]here are predictions that doctor and patient satisfaction is so high that the number could reach 40,000 in 2016,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

    The Israeli Ministry of Health is expected to oversee the production of marijuana in January 2012.

    Similar government-sponsored medical marijuana programs are also active in Canada and the Netherlands.

    By contrast, in July the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) formally denied a nine-year-old petition calling on the agency to initiate hearings to reassess the present classification of marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance, stating in the July 8, 2011 edition of the Federal Register that cannabis has “a high potential for abuse; … no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; … [and] lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 1, 2008

    So I went to the Drug Czar’s blog today, but strangely enough, I couldn’t find any mention of this story.

    US leads the world in illegal drug use
    via CBS News

    Despite tough anti-drug laws, a new survey shows the U.S. has the highest level of illegal drug use in the world.

    The World Health Organization’s survey of legal and illegal drug use in 17 countries, including the Netherlands and other countries with less stringent drug laws, shows Americans report the highest level of cocaine and marijuana use.

    For example, Americans were four times more likely to report using cocaine in their lifetime than the next closest country, New Zealand (16% vs. 4%). Marijuana use was more widely reported worldwide, and the U.S. also had the highest rate of use at 42.4% compared with 41.9% of New Zealanders.

    In contrast, in the Netherlands, which has more liberal drug policies than the U.S., only 1.9% of people reported cocaine use and 19.8% reported marijuana use.

    “Globally, drug use is not distributed evenly and is not simply related to drug policy, since countries with stringent user-level illegal drug policies did not have lower levels of use than countries with liberal ones,” researcher Louisa Degenhardt of the University of New South Wales, Australia, and colleagues write in PLoS Medicine.

    One wonders if Drug Czar John Walters can even show his face in public today. Seriously, is there anything this man has ever said that this new WHO report doesn’t expose to be a blatant and deliberate lie?

    America is ‘winning’ the war on drugs? Wrong! The US actually leads the world in illicit drug use, despite increasing the number of drug offenders behind bars 1100 percent since 1980.

    Liberalizing marijuana laws will escalate marijuana use? False! Marijuana use is twice as prevalent in the United States as it is in Spain and Italy (where marijuana possession is quasi-legal) and the Netherlands — where marijuana is openly used and sold in public.

    Experimenting with marijuana is a ‘gateway’ to the use of cocaine? Lie! Rates of cocaine use in Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands — three nations with some of the most liberal pot policies in the world — is actually eight times less than it is in the United States.

    Talking about pot in public makes my nose grow longer? True! Whoops, I made that one up.

    Anyway, you can check out the full study, along with this very telling table, here.