Source: The Vancouver Sun
November 23, 2011
Dozens of cops fill expo hall, confiscate marijuana and end the event.
By Dana Larsen, Special to The Vancouver Sun*
Shortly before 4:20 p.m. today, Dutch police raided the High Times Cannabis Cup Expo in Amsterdam. Dozens of uniformed officers quickly occupied the building and separated the hundreds of attendees from exhibitors, who were instructed to remain at their tables.
Officers were polite and efficient, all armed but no guns were drawn. I asked one why this was happening and he told me that undercover police had investigated the Expo yesterday and seen violations of the Opium Act. He cited things such as some people giving away free samples of bud and hash, offering bong hits to promote their business, and so on.
Dutch rules only allow the sale of marijuana and hash from licensed coffee shops. They are prohibited from selling customers more than 5g each per day, and cannot have more than 100g on the premises at any time. Individual possession is supposed to be kept under the 5g limit as well.
It took about two hours for police to clear the hall. Everyone was searched before being allowed to leave, and all marijuana and hash was confiscated.
There was probably over 100 police officers there, and about two dozen tax agents wearing reflective green jackets. The tax agents questioned exhibitors about their products, sales and receipts. I saw some exhibitors being questioned as their cannabis was put into plastic evidence bags by uniformed officers.
The status of cannabis law in Holland is often debated, but change happens slowly. The licensing and control of coffee shops is done largely at the municipal level. Some cities do not have any, others have only a few, while Amsterdam has over 300, which seems like a lot but is down from over 800 a few years ago.
Holland’s current federal government is less friendly to the coffee shop scene, and has been pressuring cities to restrict marijuana sales to Dutch citizens. They want coffee shops to become private clubs, with a record kept of all sales made to every member. Some border towns have already gone this route, largely in response to concerns about German tourists returning home with pockets full of Dutch weed and hash.
* Dana Larsen is the Director of the Vancouver Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary Society, founder of “End Prohibition, New Democrats Against the Drug War” and a former candidate for the leadership of the BC NDP.Republish