by Martijn on 26/11/2014 | Cannabis News

Cannabis lawyer Maurice Veldman on Cannabis Cup Expo cancellation

On Sunday 23rd November 2014 it was announced that the High Times Cannabis Cup exhibition would definitely not take place, whereby the Amsterdam City Council has shown its most uncompromising side. The Amsterdam cannabis lawyer Maurice Veldman had a front row seat, and reports on these events in his column.


On Sunday 23rd November 2014 it was announced that the High Times Cannabis Cup exhibition would definitely not take place, whereby the Amsterdam City Council has shown its most uncompromising side. The Amsterdam cannabis lawyer Maurice Veldman had a front row seat, and reports on these events in his column.

Tolerant image of Amsterdam destroyed

HTCC_2014
The expo is a trade show where exhibitors can offer paraphernalia such as vaporizers, bongs and so forth.

This weekend in Amsterdam the 27th edition of the Cannabis Cup began. This event is attended by several thousand Americans, who traditionally come to enjoy the beautiful city on the Amstel with its many coffeeshops and picturesque city centre. The visitors (the Cannabis Cup judges) spend five days researching the best cannabis offered by the many participating coffeeshops. This coming Thursday evening, the coveted Cannabis Cups will be awarded to the best cannabis strains.

During the Cannabis Cup, an exhibition also takes place. This expo is a trade show where exhibitors can offer paraphernalia such as vaporizers, bongs and so forth. Seminars are also given at the expo, and also present are several dozen stallholders with cannabis seeds. None of this is forbidden. In order to keep the peace, it was chosen to have no actual cannabis on the stands. Namely, we live in the year 2014 and nowadays we have to watch ourselves with cannabis in Amsterdam.

A great deal of effort had been made and yet it really looked as though the most important part of the Cannabis Cup would not go ahead. This meant working through the weekend for my colleague Ilonka Kamans and myself, since the Amsterdam City Council has actually done everything possible in recent weeks to prevent the commencement of the Cannabis Cup.

For example, owners of venues which were approached to potentially hold the event were given to understand, in no uncertain terms, that if they hosted the Cannabis Cup Expo, their licenses would be hanging in the balance.

If, during the event, anyone was found with more than 5 grams of cannabis then the license and all event permits held by the owner and venue would be inexorably and permanently  withdrawn. High Times, the organizers of the event, had to struggle against this and other threats. Event venues let themselves off the hook. It began to seem that the mayor would triumph in his war on drugs.

Above and beyond this, the mayor hit the previous host of the Expo, Roest, with an administrative order. Last year, the police discovered two capital crimes; someone had 45 grams of cannabis in their pocket, and another had no less than 65 grams. The result was drastic action from the mayor. An administrative fine of €2,000 was imposed on Roest.

Although  Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan has  publicly opposed aspects of Opstelten’s policies, coffeeshops are still being closed down in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan.

This resonated around the city and became a source of fear for all party centre operators in Amsterdam. For who was able to guarantee that, out of the several thousand visitors to the Expo, not one among them had more than 5 grams of cannabis with them? This applies equally to the hundreds of thousands of tourist who wander through the city centre. Last week, the mayor played on this handy impossibility and unequivocally threatened the withdrawal of existing licenses for party centres that offered to cooperate with the Cannabis Cup.

No operator of an event centre wants to risk an imminent withdrawal of their license, and therefore several venues cried off. Last week this happened with two venue managers. Eventually the Melkweg proved willing to host the expo this weekend.

In the meantime, several thousand Cannabis Cup participants had flown in from the United States and landed in the capital to enjoy five days of the best cannabis, a beautiful city and the spirit of freedom. The reality turned out to be very different. When it was announced on Sunday morning that the expo was being set up, and participants could register, in the Melkweg, the mayor intervened in the harshest possible terms. On Sunday morning, the management of the Melkweg received a phone call from a police chief saying that if the doors of the expo opened, then by order of the mayor, the police would storm the venue.

Even legal items such as bongs, vaporizers and cannabis seeds were not permitted to be present. This was a decision by the Melkweg to avoid creating a confrontation. In the coming days, only the seminars will take place.

The reader will ask themselves what is going on in the capital. The thousands of Americans currently roaming the city are wondering the same thing. Amsterdam’s reputation as the Cannabis Capital is now definitively in the past. Why is the mayor doing this?

His performance is undoubtedly connected to the additional function assigned to him by the Minister of Safety and Justice, Ivo Opstelten. IN addition to his mayoral duties, he is also Minister Opstelten’s watchdog, with the task of suppressing anything considered displeasing and having to do with cannabis. If he fails to do this, the “weed pass” will be introduced.

The Melkweg in Amsterdam.
The Melkweg in Amsterdam.

A spokesperson for the council claims that the selling of cannabis anywhere other than a coffeeshop must be prevented. This fable is even invoked in Bibob cases [where links to money laundering or organized crime are suspected – Ed.] I have repeatedly invited officials and civil servants to come and take a look at the Cannabis Cup during the event. There has never been cannabis sold at the expo. In the past, free joints have been distributed. This too was considered by the mayor as a ‘serious criminal offence’, during one of my cases.

Amsterdam’s reputation as a city world-famous for its image of freedom and tolerance is no more. We can collectively establish this on the day that New York police announced that the possession of up to 25 grams of cannabis is no longer a reason to detain someone. Next year, the Americans can simply stay at home without it crossing their minds to go to Amsterdam. And rightly so.

Comment Section

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victoria khan

We here in the states feel you sir. Thanks for writing this article and sadly you are correct, I can probably remove the trip from my bucket list.

26/11/2014

Blair Anderson

Make everyday Cannabis Cup Day.....everywhere!

Mr Mayor, you're a plonker!

04/12/2014

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