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Dutch Parliamentary Elections From A Coffeeshop


Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
On June 9th, the Dutch get to vote their 28th cabinet. With the economic recession as the main issue, the story of coffeeshops in these elections is grossly overlooked.

For a long time, the use of soft drugs for grown ups has been part of a policy of toleration. Especially the last couple of years, political parties haven been in favor or against coffeeshops. In 2008, the CDA wanted to ban them completely. In February 2010 minister under resignation André Rouvoet (Youth and Family) wanted to raise a minimum distance between schools and coffeeshops. In the same month Job Cohen, then mayor of Amsterdam and now running for prime minister for the PvdA, declared that he didn't feel for closing down the coffeeshops near schools, which was another plan from the government.

As a result of all these different opinions and regulations about the coffeeshops in The Netherlands, coffeeshop-owners have become active in politics. This is mostly the result of owner Nol van Schaik, who owns several shops in Haarlem. They have been putting up flyers with advice on the voting for their customers. Also, their shops are closed when the voting booths are open, so their customers are more motivated to go voting.
Not all coffeeshops participate in these actions. The focus lies on the Amsterdam and Haarlem region, with a few exceptions in Maastricht. These are also the coffeeshops which are most under threat.

In one of the coffeeshops I spoke Paul. Paul is Irish and had several car accidents in his life. Because of this, his days are overshadowed by pain. He told me that he came to The Netherlands because his medical supply of cannabis was stopped in Ireland. Here, he enjoys his cannabis as a pain relief. He is very sorry he cannot go voting in The Netherlands.
A lot of Dutch people who get cannabis for medical reasons, like Parkinson's or other painful diseases, are going to the coffeeshop as well. Although the prescribed cannabis is cheaper, the ones from the coffeeshop seem to be working better.

In november 2009 the first US coffeeshop opened in Portland, OR. This coffeeshop was established by the NORML, in order to supply its members with medical cannabis. In Canada and South Africa, coffeeshops, though very few, are also part of a policy of toleration, mainly for medical reasons.

NewsHawk: Ganjarden: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Demotix.com
Author: Bart Zwemmer
Contact: Demotix.com
Copyright: 2010 Demotix, Ltd
Website: Dutch parliamentary elections from a coffeeshop

* Thanks to MedicalNeed for submitting this article
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