May 17, 2021
From hipster to sport and from rock ‘n roll to woman-friendly: with more than 250 coffeeshops in Amsterdam, there’s a place for everyone’s taste. Yet all drugs in the Netherlands - possession, trafficking, sale and production - are punishable. So, how does this work?
During the 1960s the debate around cannabis in Western countries grew. And while most countries chose to criminalise the use and distribution of cannabis, the Netherlands chose a different way: a policy of toleration.
Toleration of cannabis
While all drugs in the Netherlands - including cannabis - are illegal, it’s still possible to buy and smoke in coffeeshops. That’s because the Dutch government labelled cannabis as ‘soft drugs’. In Amsterdam as well in the rest of the Netherlands, ‘soft drugs’ are tolerated, provided a number of rules are met. For users it’s simple: as long as you don’t carry or buy more than 5 grams of cannabis at a coffeeshop, you’re fine.
Rules for coffeeshops in Amsterdam
Coffeeshops in Amsterdam and the Netherlands can apply for a license, if they meet certain criteria. For example, the commercial stock may not exceed 500 grams, no alcohol can be served, there can be no advertising of cannabis and of course coffeeshops can’t sell weed or hash to minors.
So it’s hard to argue whether it’s really legal or illegal. And there has been a long discussion in the Netherlands about what is the best course of action. But hey, at least you get away with it.