THE HAGUE, 24/09/08 - A 27 year old Amsterdammer has been fined for smoking a joint. Cannabis was not the problem; he broke the tobacco law.
The man is the owner of a 'coffee shop,' as the cannabis bars tolerated in the Netherlands are called. He lit a joint in his coffee shop. He was fined by a police officer because there was tobacco in the joint.
It has been forbidden to smoke in hotels, bars en restaurants (horeca) in the Netherlands since 1 July. The ban also applies to coffee shops. However, if a joint consisting entirely of cannabis or hash is smoked, this does not come under the tobacco ban.
A police spokesman confirmed yesterday that the man was fined. The reason was that he was not smoking a pure joint but one that also contained tobacco.
Monitoring compliance with the smoking ban in horeca is in the hands of the Food and Non-food Authority (VWA). "But if a police officer signals an infringement, he does not close his eyes to it," according to the police spokesman.
If the man does not pay the fine, his case will automatically be taken to court. This would for the first time produce a verdict on the seemingly clumsy construction that cannabis is not but tobacco is banned in coffee-shops.