Van Schaik blocked in Belgium

Dutch coffee shop headman Nol Van Schaik (see CC issue #29) is facing unusual opposition to his plans to help Belgians enjoy their country’s proposed legalization of marijuana possession and cultivation.
Issue #32 of Cannabis Culture will feature exclusive interviews with Belgian officials who explain how Belgium will implement its newly-liberalized cannabis policies, which are scheduled to be officially codified into law by the end of summer, 2001.

Van Schaik implemented his own policies as soon as he heard that the Belgians had voted for freedom. He added a satellite website to accompany his coffee shop site. The satellite site featured Belgian language information about ordering marijuana, marijuana seeds, and grow equipment.

“We aren’t doing this for money reasons,” Van Schaik explained. “We’re already making a lot of money from our Haarlem coffee shops. We know Belgians have to wait in traffic jams and long lines to get herb from Dutch shops near the border, because their new law doesn’t legalize sales or shops, only growing and having. We know that Belgians need help understanding how to grow purebred organic marijuana. We know that their country and all Europe could benefit from hemp. So our efforts are toward education and efficiency in helping the Belgians get weed, and helping to legalize cannabis across Europe.”

The Haarlem hempster’s efforts met with stiff resistance from Dutch and Belgian authorities.

Belgian officials told Cannabis Culture that they were revising their new law to ban Van Schaik’s activities. One official said police would “close down” anything Van Schaik tried to do in Belgium, including a hemp museum he planned to open in Brussels.

Dutch officials also got involved. They told Van Schaik that Holland’s Ministry of Justice was investigating his online Belgian site for possible violations of cannabis export laws.

“They told me I had to close the site or I would be in big trouble,” Van Schaik said. “The Belgian guy we had been working with was also threatened.”

Van Schaik closed the Belgian website, but visited Antwerp, Belgium, looking for a building for his planned hemp museum, grow shop and information center.

Belgian journalists found Van Schaik and began broadcasting news of his efforts, creating Europe-wide publicity that forced Van Schaik to leave Belgium in a hurry.

“I have yet to resolve a problem with France, which wants to capture me because of a hashish incident several years ago,” Van Schaik explained. “When the media told me that they were reporting on me live, I realized that the Belgians could snatch me and extradite me to France. I drove rather fast to get back to Holland, but not before I found a great building for us.”

Van Schaik says he was later contacted by Belgian and Dutch officials willing to negotiate about his plans to open a marijuana information center in Belgium. But his troubles in Belgium were not quite finished: right wing politician Filip Dewinter told the media Van Schaik was a “drug dealer and poisoner” who would be opposed by Belgium’s “Vlaams Blok” political party.

“This guy is affiliated with other right wing groups in Europe,” Van Schaik said, “and they are a powerful force in politics. Vlaams Blok philosophy is anti-immigrant, racist, nationalist, and fascist. They didn’t have a big focus on marijuana before, but now they say that my pot shop in Antwerp would promote ‘the mixing of the races’ and reefer madness crap. It is a serious threat, much more dangerous than the government’s concerns about what I want to do, because these guys are fascists who have used violence, intimidation and lies against innocent people.”

Van Schaik says he is undaunted, and will continue to renovate the Antwerp building so that he can open a hemp museum and cannabis information center there in May.

“We have gotten threats from the right wingers saying that 33% of the people in Antwerp voted for Vlaams Blok, and that we better watch out, and I take that threat seriously,” the Dutch pot pioneer reported. “This is a great opportunity to unite marijuana people with everyone in Europe who opposes fascism and racism. I have people from all cultures working and visiting my coffee shops. Marijuana is a healing plant that brings people together and creates a peaceful environment. I hope that the Vlaams Blok guys, before they try to bully my people and me, will come and smoke some Positronics bud and hash instead of drinking gallons of booze. I think they’ll forget all about their anger and racism, and join us in the happy marijuana family.”