The expansion of Cannabis Social Clubs (‘CSC’) across Europe continues. The CSC system is probably most successful in Spain where hundreds of clubs openly supply cannabis to adult members. But we see similar clubs in Belgium, Czech (and now Holland) which all work on the basis of growing cannabis for the members on a non-profit basis.
The Amsterdam CSC is keen to grow only quality organic cannabis for medical and recreational use. All members must be adults over 21 and live locally, they will also be interviewed before becoming a member. Because the Amsterdam CSC is not open to tourists it is definitely not in competition with the Amsterdam Coffeeshops, nor is it a challenge to them. However the Amsterdam CSC is a significant challenge to the authorities.
Above, Mila Jansen, determined to establish Amsterdams first CSC
Vice President of the Amsterdam Cannabis Social Club is Mila Jansen, a well known character in the cannabis world from her work pioneering dry-sift and water hash techniques. She also ran Amsterdams Hemp Hotel and today she still works at her Pollinator Company.
The arrival of the first Dutch CSC, presents a problem to the authorities. Will the authorities try to prevent the CSC from becoming established ? And will they make it harder for more CSC’s to open?
The Amsterdam CSC has brought some awkward legal challenges to the authorities since it will involve the legal production and distribution of cannabis to its members. Up until now that has not been tried before. Hollands 600 regulated coffee shops may sell cannabis openly through the front door, but up until now the authorities have not allowed legal production of cannabis for coffee shops to purchase through the ‘back door’. Its a ridiculous anomaly that has arrived after many years of political neglect. The arrival of the first Dutch CSC creates an uncomfortable problem which the authorities can no longer avoid and must now face up to. The Amsterdam CSC will focus on producing small amounts of cannabis for members only with a focus on quality cannabis and a professionally run CSC. Membership fees will be used to invest in the best quality cannabis, and ensuring that the CSC has the right legal representation.
Above, the 'Tree Of Life' logo for the Amsterdam cannabis social club. The focus will be on quality of cannabis, along with ethical and organic growing.
Joep Oomen is coordinator of Encod the European coalition for just and effective drug policies. His comments best summarise the tricky political problem that the CSC has created.
“Founded in September of this year, the CSC forms a huge challenge to municipal authorities, who are now facing a dilemma: acting against the club with about 25 members would create a ridiculous situation, since already in Amsterdam there are hundreds of coffeeshops which get their cannabis from the illegal market. While tolerating their existence would bring them into conflict with Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten, who is opposing any relaxation of the restrictive policy towards cannabis cultivation.”
Above, 'The Ultimate', a variety worth a place on the menu of any social club
Below, a typical menu from a Spanish Cannabis social club with a variety of options. Prices in euro per gram
The authorities will have to decide what to do about the new CSC. On the positive side the CSC will operate for adult members only and be non-profit. It will be difficult to object to it, especially when coffee shops are allowed. If the Dutch authorities can embrace the Cannabis Social Club model it will complement the coffeeshop system. The Cannabis Social Club model seems to have the support of some of the more progressive political parties such as the D66 party who want to see more regulation and less opportunity for crime to flourish in the cannabis industry. The USA has shown the world that cannabis regulation really does work and is nothing to be afraid of.
And who knows, the Amsterdam CSC could be Hollands first example of legal cannabis production, distribution and sales. And if that happens then it could signal a new era of cannabis regulation, based on logic and fairness rather than the prohibition-era politics which serves and protects only the criminals.
Who would have thought Amsterdams first Cannabis Social Club would cause so much political discomfort?
Dutch Passion wish the Amsterdam ‘Tree of Life’ Cannabis Social Club every possible success. We hope it is the start of a legal, modern system to produce cannabis in Holland. And we hope to see more Dutch cannabis Social Clubs follow.
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December 12th 2014