The Netherlands: At the 24th Cannabis Cup, High Times introduced a new award – The Dutch Master Award – for recognition of one outstanding individual in the Dutch cannabis community, awarding the founder of Dutch Passion, Henk van Dalen. High Times: “As the leader of the Dutch Passion Seed Company, for 25 years Henk van Dalen has been gathering and selecting the best cannabis genetics from around the world. We couldn’t ask for a more worthy recipient of the first-ever High Times Dutch Master Award. Congratulations to Henk van Dalen!”
However, the 24th Cup was overshadowed by harsh police action – on Thursday, 100-plus Dutch cops raided the Borchland venue and closed down the event for that day, forcing all visitors to leave the location instantly, and checking every single person for drugs at the exit, with even cannabis amounts of less than five grams getting confiscated. According to reports, the raid was conducted because of rumors that a “drug park” was being operated at Borchland (an athletic complex outside the city of Amsterdam) and that underage people were in attendance.
One person was arrested: The legendary Mila of Pollinator fame, who had more hash in her possession than was legally permitted, but she was released the same day and presented the Cannabis Cup for Neder Hash at the Awards Show in the Melkweg the next evening. The Expo reopened the next day on schedule and without a hitch, but incredibly, the Amsterdam police issued an edict, just hours before the awards, cautioning that any judge toking up in the Melkweg would be warned, then arrested if caught again. Never in the 24 years of the Cup had this event been constrained in such a manner. Fortunately, the audience was free to step outside to smoke – which they did in epic numbers.
Denmark: Copenhagen Moves Closer to Legalizing Marijuana
The city council of Copenhagen voted 39-9 Thursday night to set up a committee to explore how best to legalize and regulate the sale of marijuana in the Danish capital. The move is supported by Mayor Frank Jensen. After the committee makes its recommendations, the issue will go to the Danish parliament, where similar efforts have been blocked in the past, but some Danish politicians are saying this time could be different.
The council vote paved the way for the council's Social Affairs Committee to draft regulations making Copenhagen the first city in Europe to legalize marijuana sales. Holland's famous cannabis cafes operate in violation of Dutch law, but are allowed under a policy of "pragmatic tolerance." While marijuana sales are quietly tolerated in Copenhagen's "hippie enclave" of Christiania despite authorities shutting down its most brazen manifestations several years ago, possession and sale of the herb remain illegal under Danish law. Possession of even small amounts can lead to a fine of up to $705 or even jail time.
Still, the Copenhagen pot market is strong and vibrant, with annual sales estimated at $275 million, most going to criminal gangs. "We are thinking of perhaps 30 to 40 public sales houses, where the people aren't interested in selling you more, they're interested in you," said Mikkel Warming, the councilman who heads the Social Affairs Committee. "Who is it better for youngsters to buy marijuana from? A drug pusher, who wants them to use more, who wants them to buy hard drugs, or a civil servant?" he asked in remarks reported by the Telegraph (UK).
Canada: Vancouver Mayors Say Legalize Marijuana
Four of Vancouver's last five former mayors called this week for end of marijuana prohibition, saying anti-pot policies have failed to reduce marijuana's availability and that prohibition has fueled violence in British Columbia communities. Thursday evening, current Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson joined his predecessors, adding his voice to the call. In an open letter released Wednesday, four former mayors called on the province's politicians to legalize and regulate pot in BC.
The letter was released by Stop the Violence BC, which just last month published a report outlining the links between pot prohibition and organized crime and violence and calling for a regulated, public health approach to marijuana. "Marijuana prohibition is – without question – a failed policy," the former mayors wrote. "It is creating violent, gang-related crime in our communities and fear among our citizens, and adding financial costs for all levels of government at a time when we can least afford them. Politicians cannot ignore the status quo any longer; they must develop and deliver alternative marijuana policies that avoid the social and criminal harms that stem directly from cannabis prohibition."
USA: Obama Pardons three people for Marijuana
The White House announced Monday that President Barack Obama had granted pardons to five people, including three whose offenses were marijuana-related. One of them was pardoned for 1988 convictions in federal court in Minnesota for conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana.
He had done three years in federal prison. A second Kentucky man pardoned for a 2002 conviction in federal court in his home state for aiding and abetting a 61 plant marijuana grow. He had done a year's probation and two months home detention. And a guy from Florida, pardoned for a 1987 conviction in federal court in Alabama for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 pounds of marijuana. He had done five years probation and paid a $20,000 fine.
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