In North America, the talk is of war, repression and depression.
In Haarlem, Holland, at Nol Van Schaik’s newly-renovated Willie Wortels coffee shops, the talk is of books, cannabusiness classes, and new types of Dutch hashish.
On a brisk autumn day, Van Schaik sits in Willie Wortels Sativa coffee shop near the train station, typing chapters for a new book into his laptop.
The book will detail the amazing 30 year history of Holland’s coffee shop experiment, beginning with the first cannabis retailers who helped revolutionize Dutch law in the early 1970’s.
Van Schaik’s recollections of his ten years of coffee shop pioneer work will be augmented by the vivid memories of cannahero Wernard Bruining, whose Mellow Yellow cannabis shop was the first official shop to open in Holland. Other early cannabis shop pioneers, such as Bulldog legend Henk De Vries, are also providing exclusive information for Van Schaik’s book.
“Wernard, De Vries and a few other people started it all by selling weed and hash on bikes, boats, and finally, in shops,” Van Schaik says. “Because this is the thirty year anniversary, we are having a big celebration that will happen after the Cannabis Cup ends in late November. We are going to have our own weed and hash competition in Holland after the Cup. It will highlight Haarlem weed and specialty growers, as well as the best weed and hash from all around Holland. We will debut the book then, and also give public praise to Wernard for all he did to start this grand experiment in Holland.”
The book project and late November celebration are consuming much of Van Schaik’s time, as he does academic, archival and in-person interviews and research to document the chronology and significance of the Dutch marijuana experiment while also planning the marijuana competition and awards ceremony that he hopes will become an annual Haarlem event.
Van Schaik also intends to include information from international journalists and other expert sources that show how Holland’s marijuana policy compares and contrasts with the situation in North America and elsewhere. The multi-cultural treatment of the Holland story will bring an exciting, balancedinternational, epic perspective to the coffee shop saga.
“Holland is the model for cannabusiness in Europe,” Van Schaik says as he discusses his ongoing courses that teach people how to run coffee shops profitably and safely. “The Dutch Experience coffee shop that we opened in England had some rough times because of stupid police, but if it had been allowed to run like any other business, it would be hugely profitable while at the same time helping UK people to smoke far better weed and hash than they could have gotten anywhere else.”
Van Schaik sits day after day in his shop, smoking joints that combine “Power Plant” marijuana with the finest “Royal Maroc” golden hashish. He is waiting for a friend of his to uncork tons of biologically-grown Haze marijuana that will be made using the icewater method into the “finest hashish in Europe.”
“I am glad that I have the time to do this,” he says as a steady line of well-wishers and cannatourists interrupts his frenzied stream of consciousness typing. “Between me and Wernard, we have 40 years experience in this business, 40 years of changing the government policies and showing people that cannabis can be a legit business that is good for communities, consumers, growers, and retailers. When I look back on what we have achieved, I am proud, but it is not for me, it is for the plant, and for the cannabis users, who deserve a good product available in a clean, safe, entertaining environment.”
Bruining contributes to cannabis customer satistfaction by traveling Holland to evaluate coffee shops. He then produces guidebooks that show tourists and Dutch citizens where the best weed and hash are available in shops that are the most fun to be in.
“No matter how weird the world gets, people want more and more marijuana,” Van Schaik says, as clouds of smoke pour out of his nostrils. “We worked hard to bring the Dutch system to England, and we achieved a lot there even though the government in the end made sure that our hopes were ruined by their corruption and cruelty. The marijuana plant helps make the world a better place. We really need that right now.”
For information about Van Schaik’s cannabusiness workshops or the upcoming Van Schaik-Bruining history book, email nol at [email protected]. or visit www.wwwshop.nl. only serious inquiries welcome: Nol is very busy!!!