Cannabis has a rich history in Amsterdam, dating back to the early 20th century. The drug was initially popular among the city’s artists and intellectuals, and it was relatively easy to obtain. However, in the 1970s, the Dutch government began cracking down on the sale and possession of cannabis, and by the 1980s, coffee shops (establishments where cannabis could be purchased and consumed) were being closed down.
Despite this, Amsterdam’s coffee shops continued to operate in a legal gray area, and the city became known as a destination for “coffee shop tourism.” The Dutch government adopted a policy of toleration, which meant that while possession and sale of cannabis were technically illegal, law enforcement would turn a blind eye to it as long as certain conditions were met, such as not selling to minors, and not selling in large quantities.
This policy of toleration, also known as “gedoogbeleid” in Dutch, helped to reduce the criminalization of cannabis users, and to separate the market of hard drugs and cannabis. This approach was seen as a success and it was praised by many for reducing the number of drug-related crimes and for preventing the spread of hard drugs.
Despite the success of this policy, in recent years, the Dutch government has taken a more restrictive approach to cannabis, closing many coffee shops and limiting the amount of cannabis that can be sold. This is due to pressure from other European countries, as well as concerns about public health and safety.
However, the coffee shops in Amsterdam have been able to remain open due to the strong support from the local community and the popularity of “coffee shop tourism.” These coffee shops are still operating in a legal gray area, and the possession and sale of cannabis outside of coffee shops remains illegal.
It’s worth noting that while the Netherlands is famous for its coffee shops, the sale of marijuana is technically illegal and the coffee shops are only allowed to sell cannabis because of a non-enforcement policy, but this can change depending on the political climate.