Dutch coffeeshop guru Nol Van Schaik, last seen hosting and sponsoring a celebration of Holland’s coffeeshop system last winter, is now on an extended working vacation in Spain.
Van Schaik says that Spanish marijuana laws are in some ways more lenient than the laws in Holland, especially for personal possession and growing.
“There are so many Spanish people growing pot, and the climate is ideal for it, with ongoing small harvests and two big harvests per year,” he explained. “The genetics could use some improvement, and there are Dutch people working on that, but the quality and cleanliness of the weed is great, almost all of it grown outdoors under organic natural conditions.”
There are few above-ground pot shops in Spain, Van Schaik says, but there is a medical marijuana movement, lots of seed and clone trading, professional grow supplies, and easy availability of Moroccan hashish.
“Morocco is right across the water, and we get all kinds of Maroc for very good prices,” Nol says.
Van Schaik is enjoying Spain while closely monitoring the situation in his home country. Earlier this year, the majority party (CDA) in the likely ruling coalition announced plans to close hundreds of coffeeshops.
“It doesn’t look like the government will be able to close that many shops, but coffeeshops in Amsterdam have been getting hit hard by raids, and they are scared,” he reports. “They are pulling their websites and other advertising and laying low. My shops in Haarlem [a beautiful Dutch heritage town 15 minutes by train from Amsterdam]are safe, because the city government of Haarlem has an excellent relationship with the shops, but I feel bad for the people in Amsterdam and other cities where the local government is not so friendly. It is a time of big concern among the marijuana shop industry.”
Van Schaik says his three modern and upbeat coffeeshops in Haarlem are seeing increased numbers of European visitors, and that he will be offering quality lodging above one or two of his shops this summer.
“We remodeled all our shops just before I left for Spain, and we also upgraded our product line and staff,” he said. “A lot of Americans are starting to book their vacations for Haarlem instead of focusing on Amsterdam. They tell us they like our shops better than big-city places, and that they enjoy Haarlem because it is easy to get around in, it’s cheaper, it has a lot of great restaurants, and is so close to the beach and the national park.”
The newly-tanned Van Schaik won’t say how long he will be in sunny Spain, but he says the prospects for marijuana culture there are very bright.
“This country’s government is pro-war and pro-USA, but the people are against war- they just want to have fun and be peaceful,” he said. “Because the goverment sided with the USA in the Iraq war, there’s an emerging new political movement that is very much into cannabis legalization as well as other peaceful aims, and they are gaining strength here. If they do well in the next elections, it could make a good situation even better.”
– For more information on Van Schaik and Haarlem’s pot scene, check out www.hempcity.net