Beat the Smoking Ban: Smoke Weed
No, seriously. Apparently the only way to beat the new Netherlands smoking ban is by puffing on pure cannabis. Hey, it wasn't my idea.
In July, the Dutch government will introduce a nationwide smoking ban in bars, cafes and restaurants, aimed at protecting workers. But it will also make life a lot harder for the country's infamous coffee shops, where customers will only be allowed to smoke pure cannabis.
Smoking dope is the raison d'être of the cafes which are scattered across the country, with the greatest and most famous concentration in Amsterdam. But when the tobacco ban comes in, the coffee shops will not be exempt.
This will lead to the paradoxical situation that only pure grass or cannabis resin, which are not covered by the ban, can be legally smoked in the shops.
Anybody rolling a tobacco-based joint will be breaking the law – but only because of the tobacco.
Many British pubs re-opened their gardens when the smoking ban took effect, but most Dutch coffee shops are penned into tiny premises with no outdoor space. The solution in Bulldog is to create a separate, walled-off space for those who want to smoke, off-limits to staff.
"We're now having to build a new section in our coffee-shop with a glass partition and special air filters for those who choose to smoke non-pure cannabis," said Sandy Lambrecht. "It's a shame as it will change the very congenial ambience in here – half of our customers will be shut off behind a glass wall. Our customers will grumble, that's for sure."
"The new rule is nonsense," said Willem Panders, of the Dutch tobacco traders' union. "It will be almost impossible to enforce because how are you going to check if someone is smoking cannabis mixed with tobacco, or pure cannabis?"
(I think that those who just hang around and get stoned in Niewmarkt are missing out on one of Europe's best cities, and may as well have stayed at home, but that's just my opinion)