Want to learn to run a pot shop?
Dutch coffee shop magnate and activist Nol Van Schaik founded three thriving marijuana coffeeshops and a global hemp museum in Haarlem, Holland, a sweet city near beaches, tulip fields, and parks only 20 minutes from Amsterdam.
Last year, Van Schaik and British cannabis campaigner Colin Davies duplicated Holland’s successful marijuana policy by opening The Dutch Experience coffeeshop in Stockport, England near Manchester(CC#34, England’s first coffeeshop).
Davies and Van Schaik knew they were slightly ahead of British law when they opened the trendy establishment that openly sold marijuana and hashish to recreational tokers, and took the profits from such sales to subsidize low-price and giveaway herb for medical users.
They weren’t totally surprised when police ruined the September grand opening of the shop (CC On-line, The Dutch experience busted and Dutch Experience opens after bust). Nor were they surprised when police kept coming back to arrest Colin, patients, Nol, Dutch and British protesters, members of the European Parliament (MEP’s), and innocent bystanders during a series of supersonic street actions that featured dirty tricks by police and hilarious antics by pot people.
Some cynics and quislings originally accused Van Schaik of being interested primarily in profit; they claimed he wouldn’t stand by Davies, a British citizens who had already been arrested and acquitted of marijuana cultivation twice before, and who has also given marijuana to the Queen and to Prince Charles.
But Van Schaik and his fierce woman warrior partner Maruska De Blauuw have repeatedly placed themselves at risk, and spent a lot of money, by repeatedly returning to England to protest Davies’ incarceration in the aptly-named Strangeways Prison. Davies, a medpot patient, is there waiting for trial because he refused to stop re-opening The Dutch Experience pot shop that British judges seem to think is too dangerous for the British public to handle.
And even though police have done KGB hits on Van Schaik, grabbing him out of his hotel room in the middle of the night, for example, he still stands tall, lending morale and logistical support to the brave souls who keep Colin’s shop open despite the brutal efforts of Stockport police to shut it down.
Van Schaik has also organized ongoing street and courtroom protests featuring European MEP’s such as the legendary Italian Radical Party MEP Marco Pannella, and British MEP Chris Davies, who tried very hard do get themselves arrested so they too could plead not guilty and jam British courts along with dozens of other marijuana defendants who have demanded jury trials and a full hearing of their complaints against British prohibition laws and police tactics.
Van Schaik is a freedom-loving man who sometimes jokes about going to jail for the other woman in his life – “marywanna” – but he is using what freedom he has left to do all kinds of courageous, creative things for the cause.
Van Schaik’s most recent venture is to conduct classes that tell wannabe coffee shop owners how to get started in the biz, and how to build a successful long-term coffeeshop operation.
Van Schaik already gave a course in coffeeshopping in January in Haarlem. It was filmed by international television crews and attended by dozens of people curious to learn the ins and outs of the potshop trade.
“It’s kinda like running a bar, a cappuccino cafe, and a head shop,” said Van Schaik. “Of course you have to work constantly to get a super menu of marijuana and hashish, which means that you have to spend a lot of time sampling products and trying to figure out if the mind-bending hit you just took from the Moroccan hashish was stronger than the Vaporizer hit you just took off a kilo shipment of bio-Haze. But whatever breaths you take, it’s all part of the business, and we want people to know how to do it right, so that quality coffeeshops will open everywhere.”
A member of the Dutch Parliament called for a ban on Van Schaik’s classes, saying they promote drug use, but Van Schaik responded by announcing a new and improved seminar that he is holding in Haarlem in March. Van Schaik will be assisted by Wernard Bruining, the founder of Holland’s first coffeeshop.
“It’s only a matter of time before all of Europe, and other intelligent parts of the world, will follow the Dutch soft drugs model,” Van Schaik predicted. “Everybody knows that running a pot shop is a public service, providing peace and prosperity in times of war and famine, having a calming, enlightening effect on a worried populace, and giving a safe place where cannabis connoisseurs can meet from all over the world in a haze of smoke that doesn’t obscure but rather clears the air. BBC, French television, and Dutch television have all expressed interest in our classes. Along with tulips and beautiful women, the coffeeshop concept is one of my country’s proudest contributions to world culture and commerce. If you want to find out how to do what I do in Haarlem, with my Willie Wortels Indica, Sativa and Sinsemilla shops, come to the seminar and get started. Who will be first to open a Dutch Experience in the good ole U.S. of A.?”
* More news on Van Schaik and the European pot scene will be available in upcoming issues of Cannabis Culture magazine. Subscribe now to be eligible for a free trip to Jamaica and other ganjariffic prizes. For information about Van Schaik’s coffeeshop seminars, contact him at the www.wwwshop.nl message boards or via email at [email protected]