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Amsterdam falls out of love with coffee shops

 
 
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2005 02:05 am
Quote:
Amsterdam falls out of love with coffee shops as liberal stance on drugs begins to crumble

By Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent
05 March 2005


For the past 18 years Michael Veling and his staff have been serving up such delights as White Widow and Blueberry in his wood-panelled coffee shop in the heart of Amsterdam.

For as little as €5 (£3.50) visitors can smoke a cannabis joint in Café De Kuil and sip a beer while listening to music ranging from Frank Zappa to Mozart.

The 50-year-old bar owner and political activist said: "My main concern is to make sure there is a good mix of people at my coffee shop and that they get the best quality grass and marijuana."

But the Dutch coffee shop system is under threat. According to one of the country's leading drug specialists and a government adviser, cannabis coffee shops and café-bars will be extinct within five years.

The number of cannabis outlets has already declined from a peak of nearly 1,500 to about 750. Only about a fifth of Dutch towns and cities have coffee shops, and that number is shrinking.

The clampdown is being blamed on a more conservative attitude by the coalition government and local mayors, and pressure from other European Union members who disapprove of the Dutch approach.

This shift in attitude was acknowledged by the United Nations earlier this week. The annual report by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which is part of the UN, noted that the Netherlands' government had informed them of a "crucial and significant change in its policy on cannabis". It said that the Dutch government has promised to take tougher action against drug tourists, street dealing, cannabis growing, and the coffee shops. The report stated: "The [Dutch] government notes that coffee shops may discredit the drug policy of the country in general."

Professor Hamid Ghodse, president of the INCB, said: "There has been a crucial and significant change in the Dutch cannabis policy. They now say for the first time that cannabis is not harmless and that coffee shops are not blameless."

Among the measures being introduced is a pilot scheme in the province of Limburg which bans foreigners from buying drugs in coffee shops, to kill the trade in tourists coming over the nearby borders with Germany and Belgium. A study is being made of strong forms of cannabis, which is likely to lead to a ban of these varieties. In addition the police are targeting people who grow cannabis at home.

The law on coffee shops, the first of which opened in 1975, is confusing, and many believe nonsensical. Cannabis use is not illegal, but possession of the drug is against the law. However, anyone caught with less than 30g of the substance is not prosecuted. Anyone aged over 18 can buy up to five grams of cannabis in a coffee shop, which is allowed to hold a stock of up to 500g. But technically the shop owner is breaking the law and can be prosecuted for buying large quantities of cannabis in the first place and transporting it to the shop.

Supporters of the coffee shop system fear that a collapse of the outlets would lead to drug dealing and cultivation going underground, which would play into the hands of criminals.

August de Loor, an independent consultant who advises the Dutch government on drug policy, said: "The changes have been brought about by the influence of the Yankees [the United States], Brussels and the EU. The Dutch approach is usually very pragmatic.

"But in the past four years things have started to change and there is a more conservative approach. The control of coffee shops has become much more strict. The police are checking up on them more and there is much more strict interpretation of the rules. More and more mayors are banning coffee shops from their cities. I think in four or five years' time there will be no more coffee shops left in Holland."

He added: "We have a conservative government at the moment but it's nothing to do with the left or right. It's a moral thing. It's a sign of the times."

But Mr Veling is unperturbed by talk of the death of the coffee shop. "It's all rhetoric by the government. It's just to pacify certain members of the European Union - I do not believe it," he said.

HOW THE LAW VARIES

Britain: Cannabis has been downgraded from Class B to Class C. Possession of a small amount ceased to be an arrestable offence in most situations, but officers still have the power to arrest. Usually, the drug is to be confiscated and users warned. The maximum penalty for possession has been reduced from five years to two years.

Netherlands: Dealing in small quantities of cannabis through coffee shops is technically illegal. Drug use is not an offence. Possessingup to 30g is a minor offence, though users are not prosecuted. Possessingmore than 30g is a criminal offence.
Source
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 1,873 • Replies: 10
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smorgs
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2005 02:43 am
Oh No!

Does this mean I will have to cancel my honeymoon?

'just say no' is my motto (unless it's the finest quality sensemillia)



Booking Details
Hotel: Victoria Hotel Amsterdam
Room type: Superior Double
Number of rooms: 1
Persons per room: 2
Arrival: 17 March 2005
Departure: 21 March 2005
Your question: Please arrange for Tea and Coffee making facilities in the room. *smoking*
Hotel Answer:


Hotel Details
Victoria Hotel Amsterdam
Damrak 1-5
1012LG Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20-6234255
Fax: +31 20-6252997

Plan route to this hotel

Check in time: 14.00
Check out time: 12.00
Parking: No
Breakfast: NOT included in the room price
Breakfast price: € 20.00
Citytax: Not included in the room price
Citytax price: 5.00 %
Mail this hotel
Subject:
Message:


Price Specification
Price for one room: 553.00
2 x American Breakfast (12.5) x 4 night(s) x 1 room(s) = 100.00
Total for 1 room(s) 653.00
Status of your booking
19 Februari 2005 13:12:44 Confirmed by hotel (automatically by email).
Cancel this booking


© 2004 Amsterdam
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2005 02:49 am
I don't think, smorgs, you'll notice changes within the next time.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2005 02:52 am
The EU Commission's view on this theme:

Quote:
EU pushes for common standards on drug treatment
17.02.2005 - 17:42 CET | By Lucia Kubosova

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The new European Commission's plan on illegal drugs suggests setting up minimum EU standards on drug treatment and calls for more effective alternatives to prison for drug related crimes.

However, Brussels, which unveiled its new Drug Action Plan for 2005-2008 on Thursday (17 February) wants to avoid an "ideological debate" on drugs with member states.

Drug abuse is currently at historic levels across Europe, with up to two million problem drug users - especially among young people - in the EU.

The European Commission argues that there is a need for "solid and intelligent co-operation at the European level", pointing to a 2002 survey which suggested that 71% of Europeans wanted to see decisions on drugs taken by the EU.

However, drugs policies remain in the hands of national governments and there are numerous legal differences in drugs-related practices in the member states.

Some countries, such as the Netherlands, have introduced a more liberal approach towards criminalisation of drug use over the years while medical treatment of drug addicts also differ across the continent.

"We do not want to get involved in an ideological debate with the member states...But that debate is coming closer", said a Commission official.

The most recent statistics show changing patterns in use of drugs across Europe.

While the use of heroine has gradually declined over the past years, the EU has become the world leader in the use of synthetic drugs, mainly ecstasy.

The number of people demanding treatment for cocaine addiction, as well as teenagers using cannabis is also rising significantly.

Differences in drug criminalisation
In most EU member states, the majority of reported drug law offences are related to drug use or possession for use, according to the 2004 Report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

However, in Italy and Spain those are not criminal offences, so all drug offences relate to dealing or trafficking.

Disparities across the member states also remain in punishment for different drugs-related offences.

The report suggested that some countries have changed their policies on the basis of impact research showing that stricter measures towards non-violent drug users did not lead to a reduction in drug use.

Different rules for treatment
The Commission says its plan to create minimal required conditions for drug treatment across the EU is to ensure that the fundamental rights of citizens are protected.

The EMCDDA report argues that drug-related treatment in general has moved away from hospitals into treatment centres in community settings. However, this trend has been less evident in the new member states, where psychiatric hospitals remain the primary treatment providers.

The same applies for "substitution treatment" which is used commonly for opiate users in the EU, apart from in the ten newcoming countries, where drug-free treatment options dominate.
Source
0 Replies
 
smorgs
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Mar, 2005 03:55 am
Quote:
The changes have been brought about by the influence of the Yankees [the United States]


I might have known...spoilsports
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2005 05:09 pm
smorgs wrote:
Oh No!

Does this mean I will have to cancel my honeymoon?

'just say no' is my motto (unless it's the finest quality sensemillia)

Booking Details
Hotel: Victoria Hotel Amsterdam
Room type: Superior Double
Number of rooms: 1
Persons per room: 2
Arrival: 17 March 2005
Departure: 21 March 2005
Your question: Please arrange for Tea and Coffee making facilities in the room. *smoking*
Hotel Answer:

You're serious, you're coming to Amsterdam for your honeymoon this month?!

Well, congratulations!

You're certainly in the middle of everything in the Victoria Hotel - straight across from Central Station, it is.

I gleaned an anecdote about the Victoria from the documentary that my sister co-produced last year, about the first Surinamese soccerplayers here in Holland. They'd interviewed the very first black man who came to play for Ajax Amsterdam, he was a funny man. He recounted how he'd arrived at Schiphol and then Amsterdam Central Station, and had been so intimidated and overwhelmed - they'd told him to check in at the Victoria and so he did, and he locked himself up in his room on the xth floor. And as he reminisced, he'd just spend his day looking out of his window down to all this mass of people - and every single one of them was white! He'd gotten so scared, he didnt dare to leave the hotel. The club called him, told him "come on", we're expecting you at the training, where are you? - gave him directions, told him to get a cab - and he just told them, I don't dare to leave! Don't remember how many days this was, and then one day he saw a black man walking down on the street, and he ran to the window, opened it and called down, "hey!". So the guy came up to see him, and that's how he found some help to at last dare to go out ... this must have been in the fifties or something! No shortage of black people on the street anymore now!

Anyway, you're looking for coffeeshops then? What, you mean you plan to spend all your honeymoon high? Oh, OK Razz

Well, there's a cool-looking oriental coffeeshop nearby in the Warmoesstraat - I think <trying to Google it up> it's Stone's Corner at #59. The Warmoesstraat is a bustling street on the edge of the red light district, with a borderline mix of porn shops, youth hostels and coffeeshops as well as the trendy club Winston International and a classy teastore. The place is very expensive and always full though, so you're much better off venturing out a little further and going to coffeeshop Namaste Green House on Waterlooplein 345, which is all lusciously oriental too, but slightly bigger, definitely more friendly and cheaper. Another one to check out, down the other way, is Kandinsky in the Rosmarijnsteeg, right off the Spuistraat, where they sell "spacechocolates" too - like, bonbons. I thought I'd try one after finding a slice of spacecake a bit hefty (I don't smoke, myself), thinking such a small bonbon would probably be more subtle - ahem. They're pretty strong ;-).

Just pointing out those three cause most coffeeshops in Amsterdam (or anywhere, really) are pretty awful - just cheap, cavernous holes with bad music and bored tourists.

I advise against doing mushrooms and then hanging out in a coffeeshop - you get pretty paranoid! "Is that guy looking at me? I swear he's leering at me ... is it cause I'm looking totally weird? I must be looking totally weird ... that guy is looking at me!" LOL. Those are better for outside - but damn, March, its cold here in March! Razz
0 Replies
 
Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Mar, 2005 05:24 pm
All the talk about drug-induced paranoia is making me really nostalgic...Also reminds me why I finally made the switch to booze. More predictable.

So much so that I when I was in Amsterdam my girl friend and I mostly sat around in bars drinking beer and genever. Such memories...
0 Replies
 
smorgs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Mar, 2005 12:06 am
nimh, what a great post. Yes I am honeymooning in Amsterdam. We both love Holland. I don't intend to to spend ALL of it stoned...but we do intend to visit a coffee shop (or two). We have been told to keep away from the Grasshopper and any Bulldog establishments (as if). But it's strange reading about that surinamese player, as only today someone at work recommended a Surinamese restaurant (near the police station) do you know it?

Of course we will do all the touristy things as well (Ann Frank, Van Gogh, Sex Meuseum et al).

Is The victoria nice? I hope so! The last time we went was only for the weeend (a package with British Airways) and the hotel wasn't up to much. So we said we would go back as independants and see more things of interest.

I'm counting the days.....
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 May, 2007 06:17 pm
Update from Holland..

0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Oct, 2007 06:56 am
Hysteria.. I mean, note the numbers: 500,000 "doses" of packaged mushrooms are sold annually in the Netherlands. Most of those will be sold in Amsterdam, let's say - random guess - 300,000. Yet Amsterdam's emergency services were summoned 148 times to deal with a bad reaction to mushrooms in three years time. So that's 148 times of trouble on a total of 900,000 doses - 1 in 6,000 times.

Ah well, thats the end of that.. a victory for the small Christian Union, which for the first time ever is currently taking part in government, and to a lesser extent its big brother the Christian Democratic party.

Quote:
Dutch Declare Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Illegal

Associated Press
Saturday, October 13, 2007

AMSTERDAM, Oct. 12 -- The Netherlands will ban the sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms, the government announced Friday, tightening the country's famed liberal drug policies after the suicide of an intoxicated teenager.

Mushrooms "will be outlawed the same way as other drugs," Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin said. "The way we will enforce the ban is through targeting sellers."

Psilocybin, the main active chemical in the mushrooms, has been illegal under international law since 1971. But fresh, unprocessed mushrooms continued to be sold legally in the Netherlands along with herbal medicines in "smartshops," on the theory that it was impossible to determine how much psilocybin any given mushroom contains.

That meant mushrooms were less regulated than marijuana, which is technically illegal but sold openly in small amounts in "coffee shops." Possession of such "hard" drugs as cocaine, LSD and ecstasy is illegal.

The government has cracked down on hard drugs and tightened controls on marijuana. It was expected to do the same with mushrooms after the death of Gaelle Caroff, 17, who jumped from a building in March after eating psychedelic mushrooms. Caroff had suffered from psychological problems.

But the outright ban had not been expected: The government had solicited advice from vendors, advocacy groups and the city of Amsterdam, which benefits financially from drug-related tourism, on how to improve the situation.

Mushroom vendors suggested stricter ID controls to prevent underage buyers and strong warnings against mixing mushrooms with other drugs. Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen had suggested a three-day "cooling off" period between ordering them and using them.

The Justice Ministry decided those measures did not go far enough.

About 500,000 "doses" of packaged mushrooms are sold annually in the Netherlands. According to a study published in January by Amsterdam's health services, the city's emergency services were summoned 148 times to deal with a bad reaction to mushrooms from 2004 to 2006. Of those cases, 134 involved foreigners, with Britons forming the largest group.

Denmark outlawed mushrooms in 2001, Japan in 2002, Britain in 2005 and Ireland in 2006. Selling mushrooms containing psilocybin is illegal in the United States, but the status varies from state to state for spores, homegrown species and wild species.

Murat Kucuksen, whose farm, Procare, supplies about half the psychedelic mushrooms on the Dutch market, predicted that the trade will move underground as a result of the ban. Prices will rise, and dealers will sell dried mushrooms or LSD as a substitute to tourists without offering any guidance, he said.

"So you'll have a rise in incidents, but they won't be recorded as mushroom-related, and the politicians can declare victory," he said.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Nov, 2007 05:34 pm
And squatting, too, follows the path of coffeeshops, "smartshops" and the red light district.

The Netherlands, and Amsterdam in particular, once had a massive, radical, and eclectic squatters movement - back in the postpunk age, whole streetblocks were in the hands of squatters. On the occasion of the 1980 crowning of Queen Beatrix, street battles engulfed the city. In the 80s, the character and residents of myriad squats ranged from hardcore anarchist militants readying for new riots to feel-good environmentalists who organised cultural festivals and negotiated their own legalisation with co-operative local governments. In the light of a great housing shortage, you had people from regular students to "beer punks" resorting to squats.

The city had a love-hate relationship with the squats: ever again, big evictions sparked minor uproars - if increasingly symbolic and non-violent ones. At the same time, squats were part of the vibrant counterculture Amsterdam prided itself on.

By now, the squatter movement is a mere shadow of its former self. Even as a renewed shortage of affordable housing coincides with much new office development standing empty and unused, new actions have been sparse. One after the other, remaining squatting landmarks have been evicted, mostly passively, to make way for new luxury development. Within the squatter movement, there's been concern over the increasing numbers and influence of much more militant and violence-prone squatters from countries like Spain and Italy. And for some years now, rightwing parties have pushed for criminalising all squatting altogether.

Now, after squatters of an Amsterdam house that was evacuated on Monday tried to booby-trap the apartment upon leaving it, a rightwing majority in parliament is readying to close the deal, and declare all squatting illegal outright.

Squatting soon a thing of the past
Expatica
2 November 2007
0 Replies
 
 

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