Pubdate: Sun, 05 May 2002
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Webpage: URL:,,2-1506-287605,00.html
Copyright: 2002 Times Newspapers Ltd
Author: Mark Macaskill


CLASSES teaching people how to run their own Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes 
have been flooded with applications from Britain, including four from Scotland.

Of the 30 places on the "cannabizness" course - run by Nol van Schaik, a 
convicted former bank robber, in the Dutch town of Haarlem - 27 have been 
filled by Brits.

Students are taught how to set up a cannabis cafe, including storage 
control and hygiene tips. They are told how to judge the quality of the 
drug by sight and smell and how to roll the perfect joint.

In addition to the theory, candidates also spend time working behind a 
cannabis counter to familiarise themselves with the different types of hash 
sold.The course is rounded off with an informal exchange of ideas while 
"enjoying the best possible cannabis" and a test of 32 multiple- choice 

Candidates who pass the course are rewarded with a certificate and a free 
pocket magnifying glass to help them check the quality of hash.

Kevin Williamson, founder of the Rebel Inc publishing firm, has revealed 
that he is to open Scotland's first cannabis cafe in Edinburgh next month. 
It will be launched immediately after the government's expected 
announcement that cannabis is to be reclassified from a class B to a class 
C drug.

The members-only establishment, in an as yet undisclosed location in the 
city, will offer at least eight different types of cannabis with discounts 
given to those with medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

Van Schaik co-founded the Dutch Experience "coffee shop" in Stockport, 
Greater Manchester, and has advised a number of people who plan to open 
similar establishments across Britain. He claims his five-day courses, 
which cost 575pounds, have attracted most interest from Britain.

"I already have bookings for the course in June and I haven't even 
advertised yet," he said.

"The reason so many people come from Britain is simple - when the laws are 
relaxed, they want to be ready to open for business. All of them are 
convinced they will start trading very soon and some are even willing to 
take the risk now."

One Scot who is booked on the course next month is Ally Tennent, a 
41-year-old computer analyst from Edinburgh. With his wife, Andrea, he is 
setting up a cannabis website selling seeds and is looking for premises in 

Tennent expects to open a cannabis cafe later this year.

"I was very impressed with the set-up in Amsterdam and thought it would be 
nice to have cannabis cafes in Edinburgh," he said.

"There will always be hostility to this kind of thing but there seems to be 
so much support for Dutch-style cafes that I'm being pushed forward by the 

Steve Cardownie, an Edinburgh councillor, said: "If people think they're 
ahead of the game by going on a course, that's up to them. I'm not opposed 
to people smoking cannbis but my concern is that people might go in for a 
coffee and come out high as a kite through passive inhalation. Personally, 
I could think of better ways to spend 600pounds."

Alistair Ramsay, director of Scotland Against Drugs, said the classes were 
an "expensive waste of money". He said: "The reality is that if cannabis is 
reclassified it will still be an arrestable offence in Scotland."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth