The Scoop on Holland
What the heck is going on in Holland? At CC we’ve been
hearing persistent rumours that they’re cracking down on coffeeshops and
shutting down grow rooms, yet the actual situation is a little more complex.
Coffeeshop & Pot Policy
It’s true that the Dutch government has made some changes to their cannabis
policy and have been talking about making more. They’re doing this in part
because of pressure from outside nations like France and the
US, and partly because their government is still suffering from the
political fallout of the revelation that Dutch cops had been
smuggling huge quantities of hash and other drugs into the country for the
past few years.
The only major changes that have already been made are to limit the amount of
pot that can be sold to five grams per person, and to formally state
that coffeeshop owners will not be charged for possession of the pot that they
keep in their coffeeshop.
The new rules being discussed include making viable seeds illegal, and
enforcing a four plant limit on cultivation, with fines for anything
over that amount, and up to six months prison time for cultivation of
over 100 plants.
How coffeeshops are supposed to stock themselves with a four plant limit has
not been explained, but the consensus was that they’d start learning how to
grow five really, really big plants. There’s a petition against
the new rules circulating the Amsterdam coffeeshops. Whether it will do
any good remains to be seen.
It’s not all bad news however. On September 5 Dutch Minister of Health,
Elst Borst, announced that Holland would officially allow what was already
common practice, the prescription and sale of medicinal marijuana
through pharmacies and health centres. Many coffeeshops have already agreed to
give patrons with a prescription a significant discount on their herbal
Municipally Owned Coffeeshops
Another interesting development is that five Dutch cities have opened their
own municipal coffeeshops, and one of them even wants to grow their own
pot. Is this good news? It all depends on how you look at it.
The Dutch towns of Delfzijl, Bussum, Heerhugowaard, Zoetermeer and Emmen have
introduced municipally run “softdrug shops” where marijuana
is legally sold. In most cases there wasn’t any competition for the municipal
shops, but in Delfzijl the City Council closed down the two
coffeeshops that were already there before opening their own. Customers at
Delfzijl’s potshop The Paradox complain of high prices and the
lack of private competition.
As to where they get the pot to sell, a Delfzil city official said it is
purchased “behind closed doors,” while the city of Emmen has
announced that they will be growing their own, and Bussum is
investigating that option as well. Emmen city officials didn’t say exactly
where they would locate Holland’s first municipally-funded growroom,
but don’t be surprised if there’s a funny smell coming from the City Hall
basement and a twinkle in the Mayor’s eye next time you visit.