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Nicked in the Netherlands

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If you’ve read the Cannabis Cup feature on page 73—or were following the updates online—you know that Amsterdam officials unfortunately shut down the expo portion of the event this November. What you may not know, however, is that even before Holland’s government shifted to the right and the coffeeshop crackdowns began, I had my own little run-in with the Dutch politie.


It was a cold and rainy November morning in 2006, and pre-registration for our 19th Cup had just begun at a small club across from the Melkweg. Throngs of judges were arriving in town after many hours of traveling and were queued up along the street to pick up their passes. To placate the wet and weary crowd, Cup founder Steve Hager handed me a bag of weed and instructed me to walk the line and hand out nugs. Initially, everything worked out great, but as I neared the bottom of the stash, two tall Dutch dudes suddenly accosted me—and it wasn’t weed they were after.


“Come with us, please,” one of them said in a stiff Dutch accent. “You are under arrest.”


“Arrest?!?” I asked. “What for?”


“For distributing cannabis in public.”


As unbelievable as it seemed, I was being busted for weed… in Amsterdam!


“Okay… I just need to inform my boss what’s happening.”


“No—you must come right now.”


“Please,” I pleaded, “I’m here working an event. My colleagues are right inside here… I just need to tell someone, or they won’t know where I am.”


They finally agreed and escorted me inside. Luckily, the first person I saw at the registration desk was our lawyer Dave Holland (yes, that really is his name).


“Uh, Dave? I’m… being arrested. They’re taking me to the station down the block.”


“What?!?” he replied. “Um, okay… I’ll be down there as soon as I can.”


I was taken to the precinct on the next corner, where I was processed and placed in a holding cell. I lay down on the cot, shut my eyes and tried not to think about those terrifying Locked Up Abroad stories I’d seen on TV. Within 20 minutes, I heard Dave’s voice echoing down the hall. I listened intently, hoping in vain to hear the conversation—until, after another 10 minutes or so, I heard Dave laughing and breathed a sigh of relief. Sure enough, a few moments later, an officer came and escorted me up front.


“I explained the situation, and they’re not going to charge you,” Dave informed me. “You’re being released… assuming you agree to not hand out any more weed.”


Whew! All that remained now was to reclaim my belongings and be on my way. Like the opening scene from The Blues Brothers, the cop began sliding my possessions to me one at a time under the bulletproof-glass window: wallet, cell phone, key ring, 275 euros…but when he reached the last item—a tiny bag filled with several different kinds of hash—he paused.


“Hashish, 4.7 grams,” he said sternly. “The legal limit for cannabis is five grams,” he added, then slowly slid the sack under the glass. “See that you don’t exceed it.”


I nodded in compliance, stuck it in my pocket and was on my way. As I followed Dave out the door, I turned to him and smiled.


“Can you believe that?” I asked. “They gave me my hash back!”


Dave just shook his head,  chuckled and said, “Only in Amsterdam!”
 

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