Dutch coffeeshop guru Nol Van Schaik called us from his winter palace atop a mountain in Southern Spain near Malaga.
“I’ve been traveling back and forth between here and Holland,” the former champion bodybuilder and gym owner said, “trying to figure out what the Dutch government is really doing with its coffeeshop policy. Nobody in the government seems to know. Justice Minister Piet Donner says things he knows are not true, kissing the butts of the other countries that try to tell Holland what to do. He agrees to increase penalties to make our penalties equal to the European Union. He says he wants to ban foreigners from coffeeshops. He cannot do that. He cannot force us to discriminate. He says the coffeeshop owners are setting up an identification system to keep foreigners out. I don’t know even one coffeeshop owner who is doing that. Our shops in Haarlem are full of tourists as always, and we will continue to welcome tourists, always.”
Van Schaik said he’s proud of the many Cannabis Culture online readers who responded to a previous online article that asked readers to send emails to Donner telling Donner that banning foreigners from coffeeshops would cost the Dutch economy millions of Euros a year, and would also be a violation of human rights.
In Haarlem, Holland, a Dutch heritage town 20 minutes from Amsterdam where Van Schaik has three quality “Willie Wortels” coffeeshops, local officials responded to the federal government’s anti-marijuana policies by stepping up enforcement of existing municipal ordinances that govern the amount of cannabis that shops can have in inventory. Van Schaik helped create Haarlem’s weedshop regulations several years ago. Local regs are the only regulations that really count in Holland’s coffeeshop industry. The federal government’s pot policies carry little weight. Local officials decide how their cities or villages handle marijuana businesses.
During the Haarlem enforcement activities, officials also checked to ensure that no hard drugs or minors were in the coffeeshops. All 16 official shops in Haarlem were thoroughly inspected, Van Schaik said, and no violations of any coffeeshop rules were found.
“In Haarlem and most other Dutch places, our industry polices itself,” the Haarlem hempster explained. “It is the same to compare our shops with alcohol businesses as to compare the effects of weed with the effects of alcohol. In ten years in Haarlem, the police have NEVER had to go to a coffeeshop to break up a fight or rescue somebody who had fallen ill due to consumption. In the same period, they have had to visit bars thousands of times to deal with violence, injury, and serious medical problems caused by alcohol. And yet it is the cannabis industry that Donner and [Holland’s ruling political party] the CDA are attacking. He wants to shut us down? Better that he shut down the CDA. Or better that he shuts down his mouth.”
Van Schaik says weed policy in Amsterdam is not as cheerful as in Haarlem. He traveled to the High Times Cannabis Cup in November with a group of Spaniards affiliated with Spanish weed magazine Yerba. The group included Yerba editor “Wismy,” who was recently arrested by police because he is a cannabis journalist.
“After we were at the Cup for a few days, we all agreed we should have stayed in Spain,” Van Schaik said. “We have better cannabis competitions there. The Cup is boring and disorganized. There is no heart in it. It is now held at a hotel. The first day, they came up to me and told me I can’t smoke weed in the hotel restaurant. The second day, they told us we could not smoke weed in most of the rest of the hotel. The third day, they said you cannot smoke weed in your rooms. It was a bad joke. My associate Marcel ‘WonderWortel’ Dekker, who manages Willie Wortels, is thinking of putting on a cannabis event in Haarlem, and if we do it, we will do it right. You will be able to smoke wherever you want! There are also many weed events in Spain all year round. The Spaniards said the Sticky Fingers and Power Plant weed in our Haarlem shops were better than anything they smoked in Amsterdam at the Cup. I think the High Times Cup has seen better days. It’s history.”
Van Schaik grew a dozen different varieties of marijuana outdoors in Spain this summer. In December, he harvested the last of his varieties, an authentic Thai strain grown from seeds he found in bricks of Thai Sticks direct from Indonesia. Van Schaik says the Thai weed was a classic Sativa, with long thin buds that took almost four months to ripen in flowering. The high was clear and classic, he noted, and the taste was superb.
While planning a Spanish coffeeshop resort that will include bungalows, cultivation classes, and many recreational opportunities along the beautiful Costa del Sol, Van Schaik is in touch with a Russian activist who says that the Russian Federation recently decriminalized marijuana.
“It appears that the Russian marijuana laws are now more humane than American laws,” Van Schaik said. “The Russian wants to get more information from me so he can set up a Russian cannabis website, and maybe one day we will be opening a cannabis coffeeshop in Moscow, and we can sit and smoke a big joint with President Putin.”
In Spain, Van Schaik is enjoying abundant Maroc hashish and his own outdoor organic weed while his babe partner, hemp activist Maruska de Wortel, is training a Dutch racehorse and contemplating a “bareback” horse ride from Southern Spain across Europe, in her latest incarnation as “Lady Sativa.”
“The weather is perfect here, and some people are still harvesting their outdoor grows,” Van Schaik said. “This is a great place to be, with friendly people, lots of ocean, happy horses, and lots of weed.”
For more information about Holland and Spain, purchase the latest issue of Cannabis Culture magazine, issue 47, which contains full-color pictures and sizzling info from the Euroworld of weed. Also check out Van Schaik’s weedpics and reports at www.hempcity.net. When in Holland, stay at Joops Hotel in Haarlem, enjoy the Old World charm of the fabled city, and enjoy herbal fun at Van Schaik’s three ultra-modern Willie Wortels coffeeshops.