Dutch cannabis coffeeshop guru Nol Van Schaik jumped off a cliff in 1989. For 15 years, he has defied gravity.
Three weeks ago, gravity finally caught up with him.
In 1989, Van Schaik was part of a group of men smuggling Moroccan hashish from Morocco to Holland via Spain and France. When his crew was caught by French agents at the French border, Van Schaik broke free from his captors, ran through a forest, and jumped off a cliff to get away.
Despite his injuries, he made it back to Holland, but France issued an international warrant for his arrest, and tried to extradite him from Holland. On several occasions, Van Schaik was detained and questioned while traveling, as authorities argued about whether they should send him to France as the warrant required.
After Van Schaik’s partner, Dutch cannababe Maruska de Wortel, organized protest marches and whipped up media attention, the Dutch Justice Minister intervened and told the French that Van Schaik would not be extradited to France. Van Schaik believed he was finally safe.
Van Schaik is the most public Dutch political activist for marijuana. He expanded his scope in 2001 by opening England’s first cannabis coffeeshop, the Dutch Experience. Later, he wrote a coffeeshop history book, titled “The Dutch Experience.”
He was arrested or detained numerous times in England because of the shop. While in custody, British officials did not threaten to extradite him to France.
Later, Van Schaik moved to Spain. While continuing to supervise his three high-quality Willie Wortels coffeeshops in Haarlem, Holland near Amsterdam, he also became a public pot grower in Spain, putting weekly pictures of his outdoor crop on his www.hempcity.net website.
Van Schaik planned to open a Spanish cannabis resort and cannabis education center. But when he traveled to Spain from Holland recently, the Spanish airport where he landed was on heightened security. His passport was examined, a computer check was run, the old warrant was discovered, and Van Schaik was taken to a Madrid prison, where officials are arguing about whether he should be deported to France. If he is imprisoned in France, the sentence could be several years.
According to Marcel de Wortel, a long-time associate who manages Van Schaik’s potshops, lawyers and activists are working to free Van Schaik, but there is no way to be certain of his fate until a Spanish court rules on it later this month.
In the meantime, Marcel says, Van Schaik’s anxious family, friends and employees are praying that he will be sent back to Holland instead of France.
When asked what people could do to help Van Schaik, Marcel suggested that “everybody visit Haarlem, Holland and enjoy the super Willie Wortels coffeeshops and the Dutch summer.”