In a test purchase, Hanf Journal editor Mr Kimo was given some nasty-smelling weed that had been enhanced with undefinable fruity aromas. When Kimo asks the sales assistants about the stinking buds the next day, the worker at the counter becomes aggressive and the victim of the deception fleas from the shop. Following extensive research, the shop, which is not far from the Oude Kerk, is not the only one to sell such weed to tourists.
The coffeeshop culture in Amsterdam is subject to increasingly stringent regulations, most of which are – objectively speaking – absurd. The latest infuriating regulation in the hemp capital of Europe was the new distance criterion imposed on schools last year. In addition to the distance regulation, the City of Amsterdam now also closely monitors the EU smoking ban: pure weed may be smoked in coffeeshops, but it must not be mixed with tobacco. As shop owners find that difficult to monitor, many have decided to declare their shops smoke-free zones. Some shops that were able to do so due to the layout of their premises have now introduced a separate smoking area, but many shops are or were so small that the coffee area cannot be divided into two, so they are now no-smoking shops.
Coffeeshops are dying out
Both of these relatively new restrictions have led to a real lack of coffeeshops in Amsterdam, and the remaining shops are usually so full that there is hardly any room to sit and chill. Some of them therefore even force customers to buy weed or hashish if they want to sit down and enjoy a coffee, which is not just unreasonable, but also illegal. Coffeeshops are cafés in which the sale of cannabis products is tolerated. If you are forced to buy cannabis in order to drink a coffee, the proprietor is breaking prevailing law, because in principle, he is forcing customers to buy drugs if they wish to enter the shop.
This unfriendly attitude of some shops in the tourist centre of Amsterdam, which is beginning to put customers off, is a consequence of the lack of competition. If you are sliding resealable bags over the counter every second, you don’t need to be friendly or customer-oriented to close the month with positive results. By 2016, 31 additional shops will close, which will aggravate the situation even further. The monopolisation has, however, not only led to fewer and fewer shops earning more and more money – after all, no less weed is being smoked than when there were still over 400 coffeeshops. It has also led to some unscrupulous coffeeshop owners selling adulterated weed without risking a fine.
Weed that smells of condoms
In a test purchase, Hanf Journal editor Mr Kimo was given some nasty-smelling weed that had been enhanced with undefinable fruity aromas.
Well-known varieties such as ‘Strawberry Cough’ or ‘Lemon Haze’ exude a slight fragrance of the fruit of that name, whereas the bag from ‘XXX’ smells, just like the entire shop, as invasive as a condom that is strawberry-banana-apple-vanilla flavoured. I would rather keep my money than buy ‘Apple Jack’. ‘Strawberry Banana Kush’ is disgusting enough. The weed doesn’t just give off a horrible aroma, it is also extremely moist and would be very difficult to burn anyway. I didn’t intend to consume the dubious substance. The only reason I don’t throw the bag away is the fact that I need good photos. When I wanted to take the shots a few hours later, the damp green stuff had already started to rot, because the moist, nasty-smelling mush in the air-tight bag couldn’t breathe. It’s just like salad leaves in a plastic bag that you leave in a warm place for a while,”
writes the guerrilla growing editor from Amsterdam in March. When Kimo asks the sales assistants about the stinking buds the next day, the worker at the counter becomes aggressive and the victim of the deception fleas from the shop. Following extensive research, the shop, which is not far from the Oude Kerk, is not the only one to sell such weed to tourists. Caution should be exerted in at least four other shops, including with varieties such as “Vanilla Kush” or “Blueberry”.
Weed ban in Cannabis College
The adulterated buds have now also made their way to the Cannabis College, an independent information centre for those interested in hemp. The vaporizer there is guarded by a member of staff at all times so that it doesn’t become damaged, because the fruity weed damages this high-quality equipment provided to visitors to the College free of charge to vaporise the weed they have brought with them. A sign hangs on the equipment:
Apple and strawberry weed not allowed!!”
Weed ban in Cannabis College? It is high time that Amsterdam returns to a coffeeshop culture where transparency, consumer protection and a healthy dose of competitiveness dictate the market. The market is currently shaped by major dealers and politicians, as is the quality. The worst thing is that those concerned aren’t even able to fight back. In the coffeeshop, every movement of the owner and employees is regulated and must be documented and could be inspected at any time. Minor violations carry serious penalties, but the consumer is powerless against the sale of contaminated weed and the consumer is not threatened with any penalty. Tolerance policy in the Netherlands pretends that it wants to protect end users by devising new regulations all the time, but in reality, it’s actually about allowing coffeeshops to operate in a lawless grey area, which is also turning the customers into lawless objects. In this way, they can collect a heap of taxes and attract tourists to the country without protecting consumers.