June 30, 2020
The Netherlands is known for several things, but worldwide probably the most popular because of Amsterdam and its many coffeeshops (or is it coffee shop?). But how did The Netherlands actually became known as the cannabis country of the world?
Just like in the United States, a new youth culture emerged in The Netherlands during the 1960s. And with it, hash became popular. And just like in the US, the Dutch government tried to counteract its popularity. But more and more criticism grew: the Dutch wanted to try a different approach towards drugs.
The Dutch government made a difference between drugs with an unacceptable risk (hard drugs) and hemp products (soft drugs). And unlike most countries, the Dutch government also made a legal distinction: hard drugs became illegal and soft drugs did not.
In the 1970s a policy of tolerance was introduced in the Netherlands, allowing the possession of ‘weed’ and ‘hash’ for personal use. In 1972 the first coffeeshop was opened in Amsterdam. Dealers had to meet a number of conditions: no hard drugs, no advertising and they were not allowed to carry too much cannabis with them. Rules that still apply today.
Because most countries did not make the distinction between legal soft drugs and illegal hard drugs, The Netherlands became known for more than its clogs and flowers. And of course today the Dutch still have a tolerant attitude towards drugs. With more than 500 coffeeshops throughout the country, there is plenty for everyone to go around!