While High Times magazine hosted many of America’s female marijuana activists at this year’s “Goddess” Cannabis Cup, Dutch coffee shop owner Nol van Schaik found his three coffee shops filled with visitors seeking to experience something new and different in Holland.
Van Schaik runs three boutique-style, cosmopolitan coffee shops in Haarlem, located a few miles from Amsterdam. His partner, Maruska de Blauuw, runs Haarlem’s Global Hemp Museum. Nol’s shops – Willie Wortel Workshop, Frans Hals, and Dutch Joint – are known for nuclear strength cannabis products, personal attention, and cute babes.
“We started getting busy the weekend before the Cup,” Van Schaik reported, “and the crowds got bigger and bigger. A lot of people told us they enjoyed our shops more than the ones that were in the Cup. And we were proud to be visited by some of the most intelligent and famous American marijuana people, and we made sure we smoked them some good Dutch weed and hash so they could see what they were missing at the Cup.”
Van Schaik reports that NORML co-directors Allen St. Pierre and Keith Stroup, NORML litigation director Jeffrey Orchard, former NORML director and current Pot-TV star Dick Cowan, author-activists Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris, and many other prestigious Cuppers visited his coffee shops and Maruska’s museum.
But while Van Schaik was busy networking with Americans, he was also finalizing registration and logistics for his CannaQuiz competition, which begins in January, 2001.
CannaQuiz will be an online intellectual contest that rigorously tests cannabis knowledge and news as found on several linked websites and in cannabis literature. The competition will last eleven weeks, ending on 4-20-2001. The winner will receive a dream vacation to Haarlem. Van Schaik promises that the lucky victor will be able to smoke endless supplies of the finest pot and hash while finding out how the coffee shop world works.
“The winner will have the best of everything,” Van Schaik says. “We love cannabis and we love to show hospitality. Whoever wins is going to have a life-changing experience here in Haarlem. They’ll find out why people have nicknamed Haarlem ‘Hemp City.'”
Creating the world’s first cannabis quiz isn’t enough for Van Schaik. He’s also bidding to be the sole supplier of medical marijuana to the Dutch government.
“Our government is moving ahead with its plan to create an official Bureau for Medical Cannabis (BMC),” Van Schaik explained. “They want to regulate, grow, distribute and export marijuana for research projects. Health Minister Els Borst wants a grower capable of producing medicinal weed who has not previously been involved in illegal cultivation. The BMC will be registered with the UN’s Narcotic Control Board, and the Dutch government has already talked about supplying medical weed to Belgium for use by multiple sclerosis patients.”
The same United Nations official who previously criticized Canada for allowing Cannabis Culture, Marc Emery, and other marijuana people and enterprises to exist, was quoted in the Dutch press as approving of the Dutch marijuana program.
Van Schaik thinks that some of the government’s mediweed regulations are ill-advised, but that didn’t stop him from going on national television to formally ask that he be the program’s mediweed provider.
“Three years ago, the government told pharmacists and doctors that they couldn’t prescribe or provide marijuana,” Van Schaik said. “We thought that was bunk, so we began selling organic weed to verified medical patients for half of what the pharmacies were charging per gram. And we also began a medical marijuana research program to find out what varieties work best for different aliments. So now we know how to grow, and we already have a list of people with medical prescriptions who need marijuana. It should be obvious to the government that I am the best qualified person for the job.”
Nol is a major player in pot politics and pleasure in Holland, but he has been plagued by Dutch tax collectors, who claimed he had to provide documentation of money he paid to illegal pot growers who supply his coffee shops. Nol refused to provide the documentation, asserting it would endanger his growers. The tax collectors then seized the contents of Willie Wortel Workshop, the flagship shop that Nol started ten years ago.
“A friend of mine bought the Willie Wortel contents at auction for 3000 guilders,” Nol said, “and then he gave it all back to me. Recently, another coffee shop owner won a tax case in which the courts ruled that we do not have to provide documentation of our backdoor transactions. So now I am going back to the tax people and have my lawyer ask them for compensation. We pay plenty of taxes already, and I don’t like them trying to take hundreds of thousands of guilders more from me than I actually owed. I don’t like them trying to ruin my business.”
Based on his experiences as a cannabusinessman, Van Schaik has designed a copyrighted game – The Coffee Shop Game – that provides players with an opportunity to see how difficult it is to run a cannabusiness.
“We’ll be debuting the game at our Willie Wortel Workshop Tenth Anniversary celebration in January,” Nol said. “Contestants will be able to buy weed, buildings, deal with police and suppliers, and see if they can stay in business. We’ve survived ten hard years, and we’re throwing a ten-day party that will rival the Cup in excitement, weed quality, and fun. We’ll also be unveiling a documentary movie that shows how we’ve helped transform Haarlem from being a beautiful, classy city near Amsterdam into a beautiful, classy city with some of the best pot shops in the world.”