Rond de asbak met Henk de Vries

Forces columnist James Leavey deelde een asbak met Henk de Vries, oprichter en eigenaar van de Amsterdamse coffeeshop-keten The Bulldog Café.


Henk startte in 1975 zijn eerste coffeeshop in Amsterdam onder het motto: We break the rules, to create the rules. 


JL: What was it that prompted the Dutch government’s tacit acceptance of cannabis cafes, such as yours?


HDV: It was a fairly big fight.  In the first 2-3 years we had 30-40 police coming in to the cafe, 5-6 times a day. And they busted me, baby, a hundred times.  And they busted my customers for a couple of hundred times. And every time when the customers went out, I went on the door and told them that every piece of cannabis that the police had busted them for, and taken away from them, I would replace.  So the customers wanted to smoke a joint and they’d say, the same as me, ‘What are we doing wrong?  We’re only smoking a joint.’  At the time, the police would take away all the cannabis they found and put my customers in jail for a day, or half a day.  Later on, it was just for a couple of hours.  But mainly, they took away the cannabis.


JL: When did they start leaving you alone?


HDV: We created a kind of slogan, ‘We break the rules, to create the rules’. That gave us the power, and the reason why we have been going on with it. Now, the cannabis cafes are ignored.  They are not legal, yet.  It’s a ‘blind eye’ policy.  They give you the opportunity to sell your hash, but they bring it down and down and down with a lot of rules.  And these rules are the strongest you will find in any kind of Dutch business – they’re not the normal rules a business can run with. For example, we are only allowed to sell five grams of cannabis per person, per day. That person has to be 18 years, or older.  Each ‘coffee shop’ is only allowed to keep a total of 500 grams in stock.  And we are not allowed to bring 500 grams to our shop.  That means that I need a person who can carry only five grams at a time to my shop, where I can only sell 5 grams, at a time, to a customer. That’s if you do it by the book. I can only keep 500 grams of hash in my shop, at any one time, but how I should get it there, nobody knows.


Sharing an ashtray with Henk de Vries

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  • "Es ist schwieriger, eine vorgefaßte Meinung zu zertrümmern als ein Atom."
    (Het is moeilijker een vooroordeel aan flarden te schieten dan een atoom.)
    Albert Einstein

  • "Als je alles zou laten dat slecht is voor je gezondheid, dan ging je kapot"
    Anonieme arts

  • "The effects of other people smoking in my presence is so small it doesn't worry me."
    Sir Richard Doll, 2001

  • "Een leugen wordt de waarheid als hij maar vaak genoeg wordt herhaald"
    Joseph Goebbels, Minister van Propaganda, Nazi Duitsland


  • "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
    Mahatma Gandhi

  • "There''s no such thing as perfect air. If there was, God wouldn''t have put bristles in our noses"
    Coun. Bill Clement

  • "Better a smoking freedom than a non-smoking tyranny"
    Antonio Martino, Italiaanse Minister van Defensie

  • "If smoking cigars is not permitted in heaven, I won't go."
    Mark Twain

  • I've alllllllways said that asking smokers "do you want to quit?" and reporting the results of that question, as is, is horribly misleading. It's a TWO part question. After asking if one wants to quit it must be followed up with "Why?" Ask why and the majority of the answers will be "because I'm supposed to" (victims of guilt and propaganda), not "because I want to."
    Audrey Silk, NYCCLASH