Are Dutch Cannabis-Selling Cafes Going Extinct? Here’s The Truth!

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director November 30, 2008

    Coffee Shops Will Disappear Within Two Years…The Netherlands Can’t Continue To Tolerate Existence of Coffee Shops Because Of International Opposition.”
    -Henk van de Bunt, Professor of Criminology at Erasmus University (Radio Netherlands, Nov. 10, 2008)

    In the last few weeks, NORML has received numerous inquiries from international and American media, and concerned NORML members, regarding the current and future legal status of The Netherlands’ tolerant and pragmatic cannabis policies. Recent news headlines have concentrated on minority Dutch parties and academics (many of whom have historically opposed the ‘coffee shop’ model) that have been able to persuade coalition government parties (who favor cannabis tolerance) in making two small concessions on where cannabis-selling cafes can be located in the country:

    *43 of 228 cannabis-selling cafes in the city of Amsterdam will have to close by the end of 2011 because they are located less than 275 yards from a secondary school. One of the unfortunate victims of this political and zoning concession is the famous Bulldog Café on the Leidseplein.

    *In the border city of Maastricht, in an effort to assuage neighboring countries, the city council has voted to remove coffee shops from the center city area (however, allowing them in the suburbs and neighborhoods).

    According to the ministry of justice ‘coffee shops’ in The Netherlands where cannabis is sold fell from 729 in 2005 to 702 in 2007.

    Dutch drug policy expert Peter Cohen tells NORML that the efforts of the anti-cannabis Christian Democratics “maybe no more than a prelude to some sort of regulation of cannabis production for recreational use. Every one is ready for it.”

    A few days after these minor changes in Dutch cannabis were announced, a cannabis policy summit was convened by the influential Association of Dutch Municipalities in Almere where announcements were made that seem to affirm the Dutch’s fondness for their hundreds of cannabis-selling cafes:

    1) Surveys of Dutch mayors from Binneblands and NRC newspaper were released indicating strong support for cannabis-selling cafes: 54 of 88 mayors favor legalizing cannabis sales, including the mayors of Amsterdam, Maastricht, Haarlem and Hilversum. Another 25 said they are satisfied with the current system of tolerated sales and 9 favor banning cannabis-selling cafes.

    2) A result of convening the November 21 ‘cannabis summit’ in Almere was that instead of a narrowing the Dutch cannabis policies, representatives of more than 30 city governments seeking a path towards genuinely legal sales of cannabis agreed to create a municipally owned cannabis cultivation and processing center in the city of Eindhoven.

    In an interview in the November 21st Volkskrant Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen makes it clear that the closing (or likely re-location) of the 43 cannabis-selling cafes in Amsterdam slated for 2011 is happening because of pressure from the national government, not his own judgment, “ We have cast iron arguments…a total ban on coffee shops really will not reduce the use of drugs.”

    ‘The Mafia In The United States Was Founded Thanks To Prohibition’
    -Christian Democrat mayor of Maastricht

    The ‘maverick’ Christian Democrat mayor of Maastricht, like his counterpart Mayor Cohen in Amsterdam, favors regulated coffee shops and compromise now with the national government with an eye to future regulations and controls for cannabis-selling cafes. Mayor Cohen went on to tell the cannabis summit in Almere that legalization of cannabis production and sales makes it easier for government to control and reduce the involvement of organized crime.

    Volkskrant estimates that 25% of tourists coming to Amsterdam visit cannabis-selling cafés, and Mayor Cohen points out that cannabis tourists cause much less of a nuisance than foreigners who drink alcohol.

    What is the uptake of all of this?

    -Cannabis has been for almost 30 years, is now, and will continue to be legally sold in the Netherlands at hundreds of cannabis-selling cafes to adults over 18 years of age;

    -The 43 cannabis-selling cafes scheduled to close (or re-locate) in 2011 are part of citywide effort to gentrify parts of Amsterdam’s ‘Old City’ that are prime for urban and tourist redevelopment;

    -Cannabis tourists from Germany and Belgium can no longer readily purchase cannabis at nearby cross border cannabis-selling cafes or in the center of Maastricht;

    The Dutch still have the best, most effective and humane cannabis policy in the world.

    127 responses to “Are Dutch Cannabis-Selling Cafes Going Extinct? Here’s The Truth!”

    1. Zach Slayton says:

      Jesus dudes its not like they’re prohibiting it they’re just wanting the drugs farther from children and heavy tourist area’s. You may not agree but that doesn’t make it news-worthy. We don’t want bars opening up next to Elementary schools just like they don’t want pot shops near their’s. Lately you guys have just bitched about random shit and it’s getting old. Focus on the pot-doc. by National Geo.

    2. DJ Tom says:

      How could the legalization of Marijuana help the US?

      A New Industry = New Jobs
      If you look at the Tabacco industry and all the different jobs involved from planting to getting the product to the end consumer, there would be a lot of jobs created.

      The money would stay in the US and not line the pockets of foreign drug lords.

      Law enforcement dollars could be diverted to more serious drugs like crack, meth or heroine.

      The freedom for scientists to conduct their experiments for medicinal purposes.

      Federal Tax on sales will help reduce our multi-billion dollar debt. My guess is it would wipe out our debt before a full 4 year Presidential Term in Office.

      I know I would not have a problem spending $100 for a pack of 20 Class A Joints (like cigarettes). Imagine the taxes that would be collected on millions of people buying a pack of joints on a monthly basis.

      All Politicians can do is talk about change, here is one change that would benefit us greatly.

      Keep Rockin!

    3. Phil E. Drifter says:

      Nevermind the FACT that cannabis is about 10,000 safer than alcohol. (jesus fucking christ, /facepalm)

    4. rastabasta says:

      Indeed for the dutch not alot will change but the cannabis users in the neighboring countries that have been following the legal process of visiting a coffeeshop to obtain the weed are going to be refused their habitual purchase point. They are not planning on stopping. It will become a great potential market for illegal dealings and other criminal activities and not only in Holland but in the neighboring countries. Already today the Dutch police have received priority orders to stop and control any Belgian, french and german registered cars in the border areas for drug tourism. This is in oppossition to the free circulation rights offered in the eec. Not to mention a direct violation of civil rights based on a racist predjudice. Free the Weed

    5. I want to move to Amsterdam and open a ‘Coffee Shop.’ The menu will show various sack sizes, and underneath how much that costs. I won’t even have to learn Dutch. 😀

    6. 420hippy says:

      you are damn right about prohibition and the mafai and organized crime thats the only reason now why it is not legalized it here…but i would still visit amsterdam and the netherlands ….you have wonderfull and beautiful country there…

    7. Watch zeitgeist the movie says:

      Mayor Cohen framed his argument wrong if 1 in 4 tourist is a “cannabis tourist” he should have said with out cannabis tourism will drop 25%.
      All the same the average citizen/visitor/child of Amsterdam should be able to conduct his/her life without constantly being exposed to cannabis culture. So I don’t see these developments as too alarming. I think most if not all who indulge in the use of cannabis just want to be left alone to conduct their lives how they see fit. Making some room for people who choose differently is just being a good neighbor.

    8. Jay P says:

      Thank you for clearing that up for me. Im a NORML member myself who has yet to visit the wonderful city of Amsterdam.
      Prohibition is utterly ridiculous, when will the drug czar and his cronies ever learn that prohibition does not stop anything? Marijuana has been illicit since the 30s yet there are millions of honest tax paying hard working Americans that will still consume this safe natural herb. There is nothing wrong with smoking cannabis yet many other Americans arent privy to the fact that they are viewing propaganda on commercials thats simply untrue (not to mention financed by alcohol and tobacco companies). I sincerely hope that one day our nation will take advantage of the cannabis community and tax it, if they kept the prices the same as they are on the street they would make huge amounts of tax revenue that could help our economy. Keep fighting the fight people! We will see cannabis decriminalized in our lifetime but we must make others aware of our cause.

    9. artie says:

      Cannabis is great for kids. I began smoking weed when I was 14. I want children today to have the same opportunity that I had when I was a youngster. We need to organize to stop the forces of oppression. I propose that we organize a massive march upon the Internet in demonstration of freedom and to defend all of our civil rights.

    10. We must all remember that The Urantia Book is being translated in different languages as we speak. The only true religion for all people will be the “I am.”
      The only ‘game’ worldwide will be cooperative trade between communism and democracy. They will protect us all against bullies. There will never be another World War. The way for right wing Christians or whoever else has a moral issue with this needs to learn that “commerce trumps sophistry.” One of our American rights is the “pursuit of happiness.” In every Bible Old Testament, it sanctions the leaf of the tree. We had no such poppycock laws throughout American history until 1900.
      America is Anglo Saxon English Protestant pecking order. Some cannot understand “physician heal thyself.” Republicanism is gone except to aid democracy and ‘listen’ to the people. The new players will unleash new legal forms of self-gratification. As for medical smoke patients here in America, we already give out synthetic THC, which is stronger than any “Cup” event has grown. We now merely need to de-schedualize medical marijuana via Congress as the Supreme Court suggested. This will end the madness. Once America leads the way, others will follow. Why; because we Americans did what we wanted with God’s plants for 300 years of our history. Were we wrong then or are we wrong now? There is nothing new under the sun. Things are changing in poised God Speed. The meek will inherit the earth through their votes. To be fair, democracy will need to keep dummies out of power and make sure the majority does not vote something in that is flat wrong.
      Amsterdam is the “only” country I would even visit in the entire world. When the British, Dutch, Phoenicians, French, Italians, Spanish…and Vikings sailed to trade or in the Wild West, no man would dare tell another man what to drink or smoke.
      The impression I get is that those that smoke medically, should remind those that want their business to vote right or enjoy their short stay in office. Why should we vote for anything that those that will not help our efforts want?
      The young will vote the old out of office and take over. We give peyote to the Native American Church members to use for ‘religious’ purposes. Synthetic THC is the first step here in America, with each city and county picking the members most qualified to dispense. With a doctor script and synthetic THC, one is free to travel most anywhere for thirty days or so, already here in America. Dispensary money should be non-profit and audited closely. Regular folks could grow at home and travel with synthetic THC. Sixty 10-mg. THC pills cost about $1000 for the pharmacy and ‘insurance’ is paying for it. We should make the manufacturers drop their price while offering them more business through de-schedualization. The way for discussion and compromise all over the world on this is to make commerce more important than sophistry. Commerce buys food and handles natural disasters. Let us all realize we are One Planet doing cooperative trade if we are to survive and have more light and light restoration. This is compromise…one-step at a time. Competition in business is for lames.
      God Bless the fine freedom loving ancestors of mine from 1600 Virginia to those of all cultures who ‘participated’ in the politics of their times and in no uncertain terms made their point. Alcohol prohibition lasted less than five years. The Urantia Book is needed to educate and bring the Bible alive as well as all the other hidden issues the ‘elect’ are being deceived about via myth and evil (power over others and glory for self.)
      I do believe the concept of keeping dispensaries away from schools is a good idea.
      Obama won because of his common sense stance on the war on medical marijuana. The Republicans could have won the election by remembering their own roots 300 years prior to 1900. “In Union There Is Strength.”