In late 2003, Dutch Justice Minister Jan Piet Hein Donner announced plans to prohibit Holland’s 782 pot coffeeshops from selling cannabis products to “foreigners.”
Donner’s proposal is the latest anti-coffeeshop action sponsored by the Christian Democrat Appeal (CDA), which is the most powerful political party in the Dutch coalition government. Previous CDA proposals include trying to close shops for violating clean air regulations, trying to prevent shops from selling buds containing over 6% THC, and banning off-duty police officers from buying cannabis at coffeeshops.
Coffeeshops in Holland have always operated under restrictions. They may only sell five grams per customer each day, and cannot advertise or promote marijuana in any way. This is why they are called “coffeeshops” instead of “cannabis cafes” or “weed shops,” because that would be promoting pot.
Prime Minister Jan Pieter Balkenende, who is seen by many in Holland as “a poodle for George W Bush” due to his support for the US war on Iraq, has repeatedly vowed to eliminate all coffeeshops.
The anti-foreigner proposal came after Donner met with German Interior Minister Otto Schily. Schily chastised Holland, saying its coffeeshop policies encouraged marijuana use. He also complained that Germans can too easily drive across the Dutch border and buy cannabis.
Donner and Schily crafted police state measures to implement drug war policies at Amsterdam’s busy Schiphol airport. These include suspending air service between cities defined as “drug routes,” setting up a cross-border spy system, and allowing German intelligence agents to infiltrate Holland.
Donner refused Germany’s requests to shut down all pot shops, but he offered to set up a coffeeshop passcard/membership system, to keep non-Dutch people from buying ganja. However, this will be difficult for Donner to implement, as Holland has a weak federal government, and coffeeshop policies are controlled by municipal governments. Further, federal political parties who share power with the CDA might not go along with Donner’s proposal, which is opposed by the Greens, the Liberals, and some Social Democrats.
Representatives of the coffeeshop industry responded angrily to Donner’s ideas.
Arjan Roskam, president of Greenhouse coffeeshop consortium and a representative of a coffeeshop business union, described Donner as “stupid,” and Donner’s proposals as “ridiculous and worthless.”
Dutch coffeeshop guru Nol Van Schaik, whose partner Maruska was arrested and mistreated by German authorities during a hashish bust several years ago, said Donner was “kissing the ass of the prohibitionist countries whose drug use rate is much higher than Holland’s rate.”
“Holland is the only country with a sane cannabis policy,” said Van Schaik, who is currently in Spain. “Our drug ?abuse’ rates are far lower than countries like the US, France, Germany, and the UK, that try to tell Holland what to do. Instead of caving in, Donner should have told Schily to set up cannabis dispensaries in Germany, so Germans wouldn’t cause traffic jams driving to Holland to get weed.”
According to Van Schaik, Donner’s proposals violate the Dutch constitution and the European Union’s human rights laws, by setting up a system that judges people by ethnicity and nationality. He said he will defy any such restrictions by putting a person wearing an “I Buy Weed for Foreigners” t-shirt in his Haarlem coffeeshops.
Van Schaik urged world citizens to write Minister Donner an email.
“Politely tell Donner that you will not spend any money in Holland if coffeeshops are put out of business or made bad for visitors,” Van Schaik advised. “If people send him a good letter protesting this discriminatory idea, my coffeeshops in Holland will do something nice for them. Contact me via the Internet and send me a copy of correspondence with Donner. It’s time to stand up for the Dutch coffeeshop system!”