Welcome to a part of my life!
This blog is about my personal life, about what I am involved in today, and about my plans and projects for the future.
My life is a bit out of the ordinary, some may call me a drug dealer, some call me a Ganja Guru or a pot professor, I always introduce myself as a cannabisnessman. My business is cannabis, legal under the Dutch Tolerance policy for licensed hash-coffeeshops. Together with a long time friend we exploit two licensed hash-coffeeshops in Haarlem, a mid-sized town in the Netherlands, 15 kms west of Amsterdam. We call our businesses cannabisshops, by the way, which is more realistic than coffeeshop, we thrive on selling cannabis products, coffee is just a side product. I started smoking hash in 1985, at the age of 31, by accident, as a matter of speaking, but I liked the spacious, mellowing effects instantly, I maintain the same mind expanding relation with cannabis until today.
I started growing cannabis the ‘Sinsemilla’ way in 1987, in my grandmothers garden, with seeds I bought in Positronics, Holland’s first cannabis growshop, the strain was Northern Lights.
In 1990 we, a couple of good friends and myself, started the Willie Wortel Workshop project, meant to become an activity-club for the creative minded part of society, while enjoying a few joints to keep the inspiration flowing. The WWW more or less stumbled into being a coffeeshop, with a permit to sell cannabis on the premises. We can not deny we did not want go that way, but the police and the city gave us a great push forward, since 1991 we were registered on the list of 22 tolerated cannabis outlets in Haarlem.
After a smooth take off, it became a real struggle to stay open and in business, Haarlem decided to allow no more than 15 coffeeshops, so 7 coffeeshops were to be closed, one way or another. The local authorities came up with a local coffeeshop policy, in which they included rules and regulations, any violation of those rules would lead to the closure of the involved coffeeshop. We managed to stay open, in spite of conflicts with the landlord, the city, the tax-office and the police, with the help of our loyal group of visitors and a few colleagues.
In 1996 we joined the Mediweed project, which meant we started to supply ill people with cannabis, for the buyer’s price, which meant a 50 % discount on the regular price on the coffeeshop-menu. Mediweed was initiated by Wernard Bruining, Holland’s #1 Cannabis Pioneer, also the man involved in starting the first coffeeshop in Amsterdam, the Mellow Yellow, and the founder of the Positronics growshop I mentioned above.
After years of visiting cannabis fairs in the Netherlands and a few more European countries we gathered a nice collection of hemp based products and paraphernalia, which made us start a shop that combined the sales of hemp-products, grow-equipment and paraphernalia opposite the Haarlem train station. The sales in the shop were sufficient to pay most of the bills, but the constant presence of police cars across the street, parked their so the officers could serve their paperwork to the Courthouse in the Station complex, did not inspire growers to from us.
We cancelled the contract on the shop, and moved to a huge place in the city centre, at the Spaarne River side. We opened the Global Hemp Museum there, a combination of the former shop and a huge museum area were we exposed our growing collections of hemp-based products and paraphernalia. Add up Wernard Bruining’s complete collection of items from his history in seed production, the coming up of the Sinsemilla Guerrilla, some interior of the Mellow Yellow coffeeshop and the history, and you have an interesting museum.
The museum started slowly, but it became a cannabis hotspot, informing people from around the world about the multifunctionality of the plant as a whole, not just about smoking the dried flowers, but ‘hemp from rope to dope’, as we presented it. We did tours with the local police, the national police, local and regional political parties and even the Israeli police, followed by Israeli state officials, informing themselves about the medicinal possibilities of marihuana!
Because of the nature of the museum, we eventually got into a conflict with yet another landlord, who took us to court, to ask for our eviction. We lost the first court case, so we were thrown out immediately, so, although we won the appeal later, we had to close up the place we had built up from an old storage to an ongoing cannabis exposition with live plants and all.
In the meanwhile, Willie Wortel had expanded by two more outlets through takeovers of coffeeshops with license to sell (cannabis). All three are still open today, I am a co-owner in two of them, the other one us now owned by my children, my ex-wife and a former partner.
A couple of years ago we went looking for a new place to live, not in Holland, but in the south of Spain, where the sun shines as often as it rains in our country. We wanted to get away from the cannabis scene for a while, get rid of all the tension after years of stress about the business we are in. We decided to rent a nice house for a year for our sabbatical, to enjoy sun, sea and great food, and huge dessert- joints.
We ended up in the middle of Spain’s cannabis scene, after walking into a growshop for rolling papers. The owner had visited our coffeeshops and the Global Hempmuseum a few years ago, we were invited to food, bud and beverages right away.
After two years we found ourselves a place we wanted to buy, a nice private old farmhouse (finca) on a plot of 66.000 square meters, in a beautiful rural area.
The idea was to turn it into a small resort for cannabis fans, a place to un-stress and recharge mentally and physically, the ideal get together for those who really want to relax in peace and quiet.
We are working on the renovation and extensions of the finca for 3 years now, ongoing, at the point of opening for clients. This blog contains images of people handling and smoking cannabis buds and resin, if you do not like that, do not look at it….
Nol van Schaik en Maruska de Blaauw.