Late last year, German and Dutch officials announced agreement on anti-cannabis policies designed to limit cross-border cannabis traffic between Holland and Germany. Dutch Justice Minister Piet Donner announced at the same time that he wanted Dutch pot coffeeshops to set up a passcard system that would prevent shops from selling marijuana to foreigners.
According to Dutch coffeeshop magnate Nol Van Schaik, who has three top-ranked coffeeshops in the heritage town of Haarlem near Amsterdam, the German and Dutch proposals are likely to fail.
The Christian Democrat Appeal ruling party that currently runs the Dutch government is politically unpopular and unable to implement its right-wing policies, Van Schaik says, and the Dutch town of Venlo, which is located less than a mile from the Germany-Holland border, has announced plans to open a cannabis “mega-coffeeshop.”
“The Venlo city council gave the license for the new shop, which is on the highway outside town, so that they could relieve some of the crowding caused by German cannabis tourists buying weed at coffeeshops in Venlo’s town center,” Van Schaik said. “The coffeeshop owners have refused to discriminate against foreigners. This proves what I said when Donner first announced his proposals ? the federal government cannot create Holland’s cannabis shop regulations; the local authorities have the right to decide how they want to regulate cannabis, and the federal government is powerless to interfere with local decisions.”
The same reliance on local decision-making applies in Spain, says Van Schaik, who has been living in the Mediterranean nation since last summer.
“A few weeks ago, the Spanish federal government said it was going to shut down the cannabis industry, especially grow shops that sell seeds, and there were even threats to close down Canamo and Yerba, Spain’s marijuana magazines,” Van Schaik says. “It made a lot of splash in the press, and caused some fear, but local officials in Spain are the ones who decide these things, and they favor cannabis. Also, Spanish doctors are asking that medical cannabis be available in Spanish pharmacies. The past federal government was pro-George Bush, but the rest of Spain is pro-cannabis and pro-freedom.”
Van Schaik says he and some Spanish business partners are working on opening Spain’s first cannabis coffeeshop/resort, which will be located along the Southern coast near Malaga. He says there are already unofficial coffeeshops, and places where cannabis is relatively easy to procure and consume, all along the coastline and in most major Spanish cities.
“The growing season is about 10 months of the year here, and the indoor scene is going strong, so there’s a lot of quality weed available, as well as some fine hash from Morocco,” Van Schaik explains. “Spain is becoming a major destination for cannabis tourism.”