Nol van Schaikís book: The Dutch Experience.
When the 30th Anniversary of the Dutch coffeeshops was nearing, Nol decided to write a book about that notorious history of the cannabis scene in the Netherlands. He started collecting all the material he needed, with great help of Wernard Bruining, the man that started the first ever coffeeshop in the world, the Mellow Yellow in Amsterdam.
The book describes how the pioneers of marihuana, some of them without realising it then, made cannabis and coffeeshops a socially accepted phenomenon in the Netherlands.
If you want to know all about how the coffeeshop system I Holland came to be, you should read Nolís book, it will clear all the confusion around cannabis and their outlets.
Maruska and Marcel.
The Dutch Experience has 324 pages, and more than 140 black and white pictures, most of them never published before. It is available in English only, the Dutch version will be ready around May 2003.
Click here to see some excerpts from the book, a page per chapter:
Here are the reviews so far:
The Dutch Experience
The inside story: 30 years of hash and grass coffeeshops
By Sinsemilla Guerrilla
Reviewed by Skip Stone
With this compelling book, Nol van Schaik, has done what no one else dared; expose the inside workings of the Dutch Coffeeshop system. In doing so, he reveals the truth about the Dutch cannabis trade, how it came to be and why it's so successful. He also challenges the authorities in every country that oppress their cannabis users to come up with a more humane and tolerant way to deal with these controversial issues.
By laying bare the history and deal making that went on to arrive at Hollandís current system, this book shows how it was done to everyoneís mutual benefit. Coffeeshops are far from being a menace to society. Quite the opposite is true, and Nol goes to great lengths to explain why and support it with statistics. These stats show that the Netherlands has far less of a drug problem than other western countries thanks to coffeeshops supplying cannabis and keeping those who use it away from hard drug dealers. Itís a system that works!
Yet the world is just beginning to acknowledge the success of the Dutch experiment with coffeeshops. Nol feels the Dutch system should be a model that other countries can follow, one that would make the insane War on Drugs obsolete. Heís so convinced of this, he even opened a coffeeshop in England to prove it. I myself am a member at that coffeeshop, which has since been closed thanks to the unrelenting anti-drug policies of the UK.
Another important issue covered in Nolís book is the availability of marijuana for medical use. He points out that thousands of people need the medicinal benefit of cannabis but are denied access by their governments, forcing them to score their medicine on the street from hard drug dealers. Nol has taken great pains to provide low cost cannabis as part of the Netherlands Mediwiet system, which he has helped in many ways. This medical necessity should not be withheld from those in dire need, yet governments continue to act in an intolerant and inhumane way, causing undue suffering of ill citizens.
The Dutch Experience answers so many questions Iíve had for years about the Dutch coffeeshop system, that at last Iíve come to understand how it works from grower to backdoor to user. I canít thank Nol enough for shedding light on this very controversial subject. He reviews the history of cannabis use and the rise of coffeeshops in Holland, and focuses on the on the activities of some notable individuals like Kees Hoekert, Robert Jasper Grootveld and Wernard Bruining. Thanks to the groundbreaking actions of the Provos and the resulting liberal attitudes in Holland, these cannabis activists were able to grow and market marijuana successfully.
These cannabis pioneers showed the authorities that cannabis use was not a threat to the social order; that it was actually a safer alternative to other socially accepted drugs like alcohol. Of course there were many confrontations with the authorities, but all were resolved with typical Dutch common sense. Nol reviews these incidents and explains exactly how cannabis came to be an accepted part of Dutch society, instead of the menace it is perceived as being in other countries.
With the opening of the first cannabis selling teashop, the Mellow Yellow, a precedent was set, allowing more shops to open. As the Dutch gained experience and sophistication, the system gained wider acceptance and flourished thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of the coffeeshop owners.
I loved reading about who sold what to whom, when and for how much! Thanks to recollections from insiders like Wernard Bruining, the trip from grower to middleman to coffeeshop to stoned-out consumer is an enlightening one. It seems the demand for cannabis is always greater than the ability of growers and coffeeshops to supply it.
The antics of the police trying to raid and shutdown coffeeshops read like a script from the Keystone Cops. They were outwitted and eventually outlasted by the coffeeshop owners and activists who knew that cannabis was here to stay. By providing a safe place to purchase and use cannabis, they removed it from the street dealers and integrated it into Dutch society.
Eventually the government learned how to deal with these businesses, but the continual pressure from other governments to impose their drug war on Holland created a difficult situation. The laws are still in a constant state of flux as one country after another applies pressure on Dutch politicians to crack down on their cannabis dealing coffeeshops. But with people like Nol van Schaik around, I have no doubt that cannabis will continue to flow freely in the Netherlands.
This book is must reading for anyone interested in cannabis activism and those who might be considering opening a Dutch-style coffeeshop in their area. For others it is a joy to read and learn the history of the coffeeshop system in the Netherlands, and that there are other, far more tolerant approaches to soft drugs that work.
Nol van Schaik is the owner of three successful coffeeshops in Haarlem, The Netherlands.
He opened the Dutch Experience coffeeshop in Stockport, England with Colin Davies, who is now serving a sentence in a UK prison as a result. Nol is
an outspoken activist for the freedom to use cannabis, especially for medicinal purposes.
Skip Stone is the man behind the www.hiptravelguide.com
Bookreview: The Dutch Experience, by Dope Britanniaís Webmaster.
|Nol van Schaik is probably Hollandís best known exponent of coffeeshop culture and is certainly one of the most influential cannabistas in Europe. Having been a part of the cannabis scene for two decades in Holland where he owns several coffeeshops, Nol co-founded the UKís first overt coffeeshop in 2001 (the Dutch Experience in Stockport) and has even found time to train cannabis cafť entrepreneurs for the UK. Now heís turned his lifetime of experience and knowledge loose in a book, The Dutch Experience, in which he chronicles 30 years of hash and grass coffeeshops from their birth in Holland through to their migration to the UK.
This wonderfully informative book provides basic cannabis information together with suprising facts Ė such as that the Bulldog coffeeshop chain are the 3rd largest seller of Heineken in Holland! Reviewing 30 years of history, Nol takes the reader on a tour from Hollandís first coffeeshop, Mellow Yellow, through to the modern medical marijuana movement, even taking in the invention of home grow as we know it and then giving you the inside track on the UKís first coffeeshop, also called the Dutch Experience (Nol seems to like that name!).
In essence, The Dutch Experience is one part history, one part business textbook and one part manifesto. If youíve ever smoked a fat joint and wondered what it would be like to run your own coffeeshop, then this book is for you. There are some very Dutch uses of English that can be a bit jarring but you shouldnít let this put you off in the slightest and after a while you find that this accented narration adds to the character of the book. This is an insightful look at the cannabis cafť trade from someone who is steeped in the business and if you are at all interested in Europeís contemporary cannabis culture, past, present and future, then you should read it immediately.
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