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The backdoor of a coffeeshop is not just an emergency exit

There has been long time confusion about how coffeeshops supply themselves with good quality marijuana and hash.

I think it is about time to explain the ins and outs as I have experienced them in the old situation, and in the new style of supply. Do keep in mind this is my experience with the ‘backdoor’, I do not represent a group of CS owners, although I am a member of the BCD. (Cannabis Retailers Union). I do know how some of my colleagues go about with the ‘backdoor’, so I can point out the differences in approach of this complex situation.

cannabis coffeeshop backdoor supply stashAll coffeeshops used to work with a stash (a secret hiding place) or stashes, where they would either have all their cannabis in one place, or have their hash stashed in one place and the marihuana in one or several other places, because of the volume of dried cannabis buds. The people ‘sitting’ on a coffeeshop stash were paid in cannabis or cash. Having to work with different stashes made things more complicated, the supplier of the shop had to go to several places to pick up gear to re-supply the shop a couple of times a day. To make sure everyone understands why supplying a coffeeshop is complicated I will explain the restrictions causing the hassle. Licensed ‘hashcoffeeshops’ can only have a work supply of 500 grams on the premises. Most coffeeshops try to maintain an extensive menu, which leads to even more complications, more stashes and more small, illegal, cannabis-transports.

This is how it works in practice, it’s all just a matter of calculating weights, incoming vs. outgoing. Let’s take a coffeeshop with 12 different kinds of cannabis on the menu as an example. Besides 12 kinds of hash and marihuana on the menu, a coffeeshop usually sells pre-rolled joints and reefers, the weight of these products have to be taken into consideration as well. Let’s say this coffeeshop has 100 grams in joints, meaning the weight of the cannabis, not the eventual tobacco. That leaves a 400 gram space for 5 kinds of hash and 7 kinds of marihuana. With 30 grams of each kind in a plastic container in case of ‘sales over the scale’, it adds up to 100+360= 460 grams total. That leaves a 40 gram gap, we use that to keep one refill of our best selling marihuana on hand. Working with a computer connected scale makes this easy to maintain, the computer will tell the dealer when he goes over the 500 gram limit when weighing in a refill. Having only 30 grams of each kind available means that one kind of cannabis can be sold out after 6 customers buying the max limit of 5 grams. This means the ‘refill-man’ has to be informed, so he can bring over 30 grams of the product that just sold out. The weird thing about the 500 gram limit is the fact that a coffeeshop can sell more than 500 grams per day, as long as the supply stay under the limit and sales are no more than 5 grams per client. This shop would have to have at least 17 refills a day if they would sell 500 grams daily, while staying with a -500 grams supply.

nol van schaik willie wortels coffee shopI know a few shops in Amsterdam that have almost 40 kinds of cannabis on the menu, it is hard to avoid not witnessing a refill there, some kinds have 7 gram refills! One can imagine how much running around and administration is involved in maintaining a proper menu for a coffeeshop. How about the hassle for the people doing this job for a salary, with the risk of being robbed of a few small bags of hash and weed every time they shift cannabis from stash/wholesaler to the coffeeshop involved. Where does a coffeeshop owner complain when one of his stashes is robbed, or when one of his refill people is beaten up over a few 7 gram refills, again?

All the previous made a part of my colleagues, including myself, turn to an alternative way of supplying our coffeeshops, to avoid having to have stashes, with crooks, cops, and the tax-office preying on them. The alternative that came up was buying a complete menu from one single supplier, who takes care of the buying, stashing and the weighing of 30 grams refills. This way we take a lot of pressure from our refill guy, and we have far less risky things on our hands. Of course we get samples offered before deciding to put a new strain or hash on the menu, we still have influence on what we offer our customers for sale. It is a major step forward in dealing with the backdoor, although our supplier still has to deal with all the dangers of arrest for possession and confiscation of cannabis products.

The paradox stays, however, some coffeeshops in the border areas and Amsterdam sell several to dozens of kilo’s of cannabis per day, paying a high tax on every gram sold. The 500 gram restriction is a hoax, kept intact by this and past hypocritical governments, while some countries in the world are loosening up on their restrictive cannabis-laws. Maybe because they looked at the Dutch society dealing with cannabis and the low percentage in cannabis consumers?

Still confused? So am I, but this is the way it is…

Nol van Schaik, coffeeshop entrepreneur.