Netherlands - Marijuana /Tobacco Cigarettes - Confusion..

July 1, 2009 - The ban on smoking in bars and restaurants began July 1, 2008. Dutch coffee shop owners claim the law, which has effectively put a stop to smoking the milder varieties of cannabis cigarette, threatens to put hundreds of them out of business. Mark Jacobsen, chairman of the BCD, a nationwide association of coffee shop owners, said proper implementation of it would require inspectors to check each cannabis joint for tobacco content.

Dutch coffee shops are licensed to sell small quantities of cannabis to adults over 18.

Jacobsen: "It's absurd. In other countries they look to see whether you have marijuana in your cigarette, here they'll look to see if you've got cigarette in your marijuana." Paul Wilhelm, owner of De Tweede Kamer, a popular Amsterdam coffee shop, said: "It's a bit like saying to someone you can go into a cafe and you can buy a beer, but you can't drink it there - you'll have to stick to whisky, rum and vodka."

Research shows that the majority of coffee shop patrons prefer less-potent joints in which cannabis is mixed with tobacco, and only 18 percent favor the pure cannabis alternative.

Some cafes have said they will get round the problem by producing more pure cannabis brownies or "space cakes", while others have built smoking chambers within their premises which are off-limits to staff. Others have started to sell alternatives to tobacco, such as the herb coltsfoot.

But a catering industry spokesman said 1,600 coffee shops across the country have been put up for sale because their owners were convinced their businesses were doomed.

The Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, which is responsible for enforcing the ban, said it had trained around 200 inspectors. A spokesman said: "They can tell the difference between a mix or a pure joint from its smell and appearance."

The Dutch (Holland, Netherlands) Ab Klink, the Dutch health minister,
said he hoped the law would help to rid the country of cannabis-induced idleness. "Consumers who spend the whole day hanging out in coffee shops will find other things to do," he said.

References: Dutch tobacco ban means cafe smokers can only light up pure cannabis cigarettes Smoking tobacco in restaurants and cafes across Holland is now illegal, but customers are still allowed to light up pure cannabis cigarettes by Lucy Cockcroft, Telegraph,, 7/1/2009; Marijuana Loopholes In New Netherlands Tobacco Policy, Reuters, 6/27/2009.

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