Are Dutch Cannabis-Selling Cafes Going Extinct? Here’s The Truth!

Coffee Shops Will Disappear Within Two Years…The Netherlands Can’t Continue To Tolerate Existence of Coffee Shops Because Of International Opposition.”
-Henk van de Bunt, Professor of Criminology at Erasmus University (Radio Netherlands, Nov. 10, 2008)

In the last few weeks, NORML has received numerous inquiries from international and American media, and concerned NORML members, regarding the current and future legal status of The Netherlands’ tolerant and pragmatic cannabis policies. Recent news headlines have concentrated on minority Dutch parties and academics (many of whom have historically opposed the ‘coffee shop’ model) that have been able to persuade coalition government parties (who favor cannabis tolerance) in making two small concessions on where cannabis-selling cafes can be located in the country:

*43 of 228 cannabis-selling cafes in the city of Amsterdam will have to close by the end of 2011 because they are located less than 275 yards from a secondary school. One of the unfortunate victims of this political and zoning concession is the famous Bulldog Café on the Leidseplein.
*In the border city of Maastricht, in an effort to assuage neighboring countries, the city council has voted to remove coffee shops from the center city area (however, allowing them in the suburbs and neighborhoods).

According to the ministry of justice ‘coffee shops’ in The Netherlands where cannabis is sold fell from 729 in 2005 to 702 in 2007.
Dutch drug policy expert Peter Cohen tells NORML that the efforts of the anti-cannabis Christian Democratics “maybe no more than a prelude to some sort of regulation of cannabis production for recreational use. Every one is ready for it.”
A few days after these minor changes in Dutch cannabis were announced, a cannabis policy summit was convened by the influential Association of Dutch Municipalities in Almere where announcements were made that seem to affirm the Dutch’s fondness for their hundreds of cannabis-selling cafes:

1) Surveys of Dutch mayors from Binneblands and NRC newspaper were released indicating strong support for cannabis-selling cafes: 54 of 88 mayors favor legalizing cannabis sales, including the mayors of Amsterdam, Maastricht, Haarlem and Hilversum. Another 25 said they are satisfied with the current system of tolerated sales and 9 favor banning cannabis-selling cafes.
2) A result of convening the November 21 ‘cannabis summit’ in Almere was that instead of a narrowing the Dutch cannabis policies, representatives of more than 30 city governments seeking a path towards genuinely legal sales of cannabis agreed to create a municipally owned cannabis cultivation and processing center in the city of Eindhoven.

In an interview in the November 21st Volkskrant Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen makes it clear that the closing (or likely re-location) of the 43 cannabis-selling cafes in Amsterdam slated for 2011 is happening because of pressure from the national government, not his own judgment, “ We have cast iron arguments…a total ban on coffee shops really will not reduce the use of drugs.”
‘The Mafia In The United States Was Founded Thanks To Prohibition’
-Christian Democrat mayor of Maastricht
The ‘maverick’ Christian Democrat mayor of Maastricht, like his counterpart Mayor Cohen in Amsterdam, favors regulated coffee shops and compromise now with the national government with an eye to future regulations and controls for cannabis-selling cafes. Mayor Cohen went on to tell the cannabis summit in Almere that legalization of cannabis production and sales makes it easier for government to control and reduce the involvement of organized crime.
Volkskrant estimates that 25% of tourists coming to Amsterdam visit cannabis-selling cafés, and Mayor Cohen points out that cannabis tourists cause much less of a nuisance than foreigners who drink alcohol.
What is the uptake of all of this?

-Cannabis has been for almost 30 years, is now, and will continue to be legally sold in the Netherlands at hundreds of cannabis-selling cafes to adults over 18 years of age;
-The 43 cannabis-selling cafes scheduled to close (or re-locate) in 2011 are part of citywide effort to gentrify parts of Amsterdam’s ‘Old City’ that are prime for urban and tourist redevelopment;
-Cannabis tourists from Germany and Belgium can no longer readily purchase cannabis at nearby cross border cannabis-selling cafes or in the center of Maastricht;
The Dutch still have the best, most effective and humane cannabis policy in the world.

0 thoughts

  1. Jesus dudes its not like they’re prohibiting it they’re just wanting the drugs farther from children and heavy tourist area’s. You may not agree but that doesn’t make it news-worthy. We don’t want bars opening up next to Elementary schools just like they don’t want pot shops near their’s. Lately you guys have just bitched about random shit and it’s getting old. Focus on the pot-doc. by National Geo.

  2. How could the legalization of Marijuana help the US?
    A New Industry = New Jobs
    If you look at the Tabacco industry and all the different jobs involved from planting to getting the product to the end consumer, there would be a lot of jobs created.
    The money would stay in the US and not line the pockets of foreign drug lords.
    Law enforcement dollars could be diverted to more serious drugs like crack, meth or heroine.
    The freedom for scientists to conduct their experiments for medicinal purposes.
    Federal Tax on sales will help reduce our multi-billion dollar debt. My guess is it would wipe out our debt before a full 4 year Presidential Term in Office.
    I know I would not have a problem spending $100 for a pack of 20 Class A Joints (like cigarettes). Imagine the taxes that would be collected on millions of people buying a pack of joints on a monthly basis.
    All Politicians can do is talk about change, here is one change that would benefit us greatly.
    Keep Rockin!

  3. Nevermind the FACT that cannabis is about 10,000 safer than alcohol. (jesus fucking christ, /facepalm)

  4. Indeed for the dutch not alot will change but the cannabis users in the neighboring countries that have been following the legal process of visiting a coffeeshop to obtain the weed are going to be refused their habitual purchase point. They are not planning on stopping. It will become a great potential market for illegal dealings and other criminal activities and not only in Holland but in the neighboring countries. Already today the Dutch police have received priority orders to stop and control any Belgian, french and german registered cars in the border areas for drug tourism. This is in oppossition to the free circulation rights offered in the eec. Not to mention a direct violation of civil rights based on a racist predjudice. Free the Weed

  5. you are damn right about prohibition and the mafai and organized crime thats the only reason now why it is not legalized it here…but i would still visit amsterdam and the netherlands ….you have wonderfull and beautiful country there…

  6. Mayor Cohen framed his argument wrong if 1 in 4 tourist is a “cannabis tourist” he should have said with out cannabis tourism will drop 25%.
    All the same the average citizen/visitor/child of Amsterdam should be able to conduct his/her life without constantly being exposed to cannabis culture. So I don’t see these developments as too alarming. I think most if not all who indulge in the use of cannabis just want to be left alone to conduct their lives how they see fit. Making some room for people who choose differently is just being a good neighbor.

  7. Thank you for clearing that up for me. Im a NORML member myself who has yet to visit the wonderful city of Amsterdam.
    Prohibition is utterly ridiculous, when will the drug czar and his cronies ever learn that prohibition does not stop anything? Marijuana has been illicit since the 30s yet there are millions of honest tax paying hard working Americans that will still consume this safe natural herb. There is nothing wrong with smoking cannabis yet many other Americans arent privy to the fact that they are viewing propaganda on commercials thats simply untrue (not to mention financed by alcohol and tobacco companies). I sincerely hope that one day our nation will take advantage of the cannabis community and tax it, if they kept the prices the same as they are on the street they would make huge amounts of tax revenue that could help our economy. Keep fighting the fight people! We will see cannabis decriminalized in our lifetime but we must make others aware of our cause.

  8. Cannabis is great for kids. I began smoking weed when I was 14. I want children today to have the same opportunity that I had when I was a youngster. We need to organize to stop the forces of oppression. I propose that we organize a massive march upon the Internet in demonstration of freedom and to defend all of our civil rights.

  9. We must all remember that The Urantia Book is being translated in different languages as we speak. The only true religion for all people will be the “I am.”
    The only ‘game’ worldwide will be cooperative trade between communism and democracy. They will protect us all against bullies. There will never be another World War. The way for right wing Christians or whoever else has a moral issue with this needs to learn that “commerce trumps sophistry.” One of our American rights is the “pursuit of happiness.” In every Bible Old Testament, it sanctions the leaf of the tree. We had no such poppycock laws throughout American history until 1900.
    America is Anglo Saxon English Protestant pecking order. Some cannot understand “physician heal thyself.” Republicanism is gone except to aid democracy and ‘listen’ to the people. The new players will unleash new legal forms of self-gratification. As for medical smoke patients here in America, we already give out synthetic THC, which is stronger than any “Cup” event has grown. We now merely need to de-schedualize medical marijuana via Congress as the Supreme Court suggested. This will end the madness. Once America leads the way, others will follow. Why; because we Americans did what we wanted with God’s plants for 300 years of our history. Were we wrong then or are we wrong now? There is nothing new under the sun. Things are changing in poised God Speed. The meek will inherit the earth through their votes. To be fair, democracy will need to keep dummies out of power and make sure the majority does not vote something in that is flat wrong.
    Amsterdam is the “only” country I would even visit in the entire world. When the British, Dutch, Phoenicians, French, Italians, Spanish…and Vikings sailed to trade or in the Wild West, no man would dare tell another man what to drink or smoke.
    The impression I get is that those that smoke medically, should remind those that want their business to vote right or enjoy their short stay in office. Why should we vote for anything that those that will not help our efforts want?
    The young will vote the old out of office and take over. We give peyote to the Native American Church members to use for ‘religious’ purposes. Synthetic THC is the first step here in America, with each city and county picking the members most qualified to dispense. With a doctor script and synthetic THC, one is free to travel most anywhere for thirty days or so, already here in America. Dispensary money should be non-profit and audited closely. Regular folks could grow at home and travel with synthetic THC. Sixty 10-mg. THC pills cost about $1000 for the pharmacy and ‘insurance’ is paying for it. We should make the manufacturers drop their price while offering them more business through de-schedualization. The way for discussion and compromise all over the world on this is to make commerce more important than sophistry. Commerce buys food and handles natural disasters. Let us all realize we are One Planet doing cooperative trade if we are to survive and have more light and light restoration. This is compromise…one-step at a time. Competition in business is for lames.
    God Bless the fine freedom loving ancestors of mine from 1600 Virginia to those of all cultures who ‘participated’ in the politics of their times and in no uncertain terms made their point. Alcohol prohibition lasted less than five years. The Urantia Book is needed to educate and bring the Bible alive as well as all the other hidden issues the ‘elect’ are being deceived about via myth and evil (power over others and glory for self.)
    I do believe the concept of keeping dispensaries away from schools is a good idea.
    Obama won because of his common sense stance on the war on medical marijuana. The Republicans could have won the election by remembering their own roots 300 years prior to 1900. “In Union There Is Strength.”

  10. It’s the liberals trying to ruin a good thing they fail to see where the money from the weed sales and seed sales go towards national healthcare

  11. Thanks for sharing this info with us! It’s good to know. I also highly anticipate a time when it will truly be legal and regulated by the Dutch government so as to create an even more established “benchmark” by which the standards are set, so the rest of the world can catch up to reality and see that cannabis legalization doesn’t spell impending doom and socio-economic collapse.

  12. First, they came for the coffee shops, and I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t a coffee shop…

  13. I for one do not wish to spend $100.oo on a pack of joints. If anything, I would like to see prices returned to their 1969 levels. Yeh, I know, I must be smokin’ something to think that. But regulating it, decriminalizing it or fully legalizing it would eliminate the black market and the product could at LEAST return to something resembling its ACTUAL value. The money is up because of the risk involved obtaining it, the risk involved in distributing it, and the legal costs that go into defending those accused of both. It’s pure and simple prohibition-caused inflation, and if you settle for a $100 pack of joints, you are a chump.

  14. Very good article. Captures exactly what’s going on. Though I’m not as optimistic about your view that coffeeshops are there to stay. There’s some negative tensions. Political parties are going to clash hard over this in the next few years.

  15. I have Dutch blood. I am very proud.
    Germany and Belgium should be States of the Netherlands. So should Australia.

  16. What about the fact that they just banned MUSHROOMS? Are you really sure? It seems like the netherlands is getting their conservative-love on.

  17. Thanks for clearing that up NORML. I’m sure we are about to see some news from the AP with headlines such as “Dutch Disband dozens of Marijuana Coffee Shops” or “Amsterdam Pot Shops Close down”. At least we’ll be armed with the facts and will be able to see through the smoke screen the AP loves us to look through.

  18. Dearest Friends of Cannabis:
    The Dutch have been (for at least 700 years) and will continue to be the most tolerant people on the planet. It will take time for our good ol’ US of A to get it, but with this black dude taking the oath on January 20… my brothers and sisters… HAVE FAITH! These times, they are a changin’…
    We know that weed is not evil. What’s evil is that every time I check into hotel in America there is a bible waiting for me. Do the world and me a favor, rather than a bible, leave me joint. Or leave me both. I may actually read the bible if I can smoke some weed first.
    with faith and hope that we can all get along, be tolerant, and live in peace.
    Prayers to the Indian people who have undergone such hell this last week. It is belief systems that separate us and cause hate. Believe what you want, but have respect for life.
    best regards,
    Larry Jay

  19. The capitalist in this country are not neccesarily conservatives for good reason. It’s not much fair that penpals of astrologers and psychics never get to travel over there. I’m not for prohibiton ruining my chance to get to smoke weed in Amsterdamn I’ve never been. Us people on the fireworks city borderline in Columbus GeorgIA roll back prohibition but I’m no longer free to say the menu to what’s available to the drug Prohibitionist because when there not for friends there not for anti moonshiner or moonshiner mentality. KEEP YOUR PARTY ROCKING & ROLLING!!! NOBODY PARTY’S LIKE CANDY FLIPPERS!!! 25th ST. CLICK

  20. I like the idea that someday I can go into a store and buy weed. It should be priced the way alcohol is. It should go from the cheap to the very expensive. If you enjoy Budlight, fine. If you prefer a 100 year old Congac and don’t mind paying for it, cool. If you have the skills and patience to produce your own, that should be okay also. You should only be allowed to sell if you have the necessary state or federal license for that. Just A Thought.

  21. The election of Barak Obama is the very begining of a new governing philosophy in the United States. It also represents a new relationship with our friends and allies around the globe. For those who think the power and prestige of the United Staes is over . I can assure you your are gravely mistaken. With a new attitude of non intervention in the internal afairs of foriegn governments by the “Right-Wing” we will gain new power and respect. The Obama administration understands that we cannot continue squandering billions of dollars on a failed drug war. The DEA and ONDCP have been responsible for unimaginable damage to the reputation of the United States. The Right-Wing policies of subversion and political influence in the afairs of governments like Thailand and The Netherlands
    has been an unmitigated disaster. The current mass protests in Thailand are a direct result of the right-wing support of the present regime. It will fall under it’s own wieght soon enough. The CIA and DEA has been toying with politics for far to long in Thailand. There has been a constant barage of pressure on the Dutch government from Washinton all throught he insane Bush administration. We must all contact the Obama website right away and let them know your feelings about the out of control DEA. Let them know that outside of our “direct national security interests” we don’t want the CIA interfearing with domestic politics in allied countries. Tell them that its time to stop pouring billions of dollars much of it spent in secrecy down the drug war rat hole. Tell them that at least where cannabis is concerned they should stop wasting our tax dollars trying to shovel manure against the tide. The People of Europe have spoken out plainly and loudly they don’t want the U.S. Government telling them how to formulate their cannabis policies. Tell the Obama administration that you want the ONDCP and the DEA to stop overiding the expressed wishes of the electorates of the states who voted for liberalization. Tell them you want to stop feeding the private prison industry with foddeer for their twisted profit schemes by sending cannabis users to jail. Tell them to stop waging war against our own citizens especially minorities. Tell them to look to the Netherlands as the example of a better attitude towards cannabis. And for god sake get your passport and get on a plane for tyhe Netherlands ASAP so you can all see what freedom looks like. Learn some Dutch first it’s more fun that way.

  22. If it would be legal to grow it and sell it, then it would be legal for people to grow their own. Would enough people grow there own to make large scale sales and distribution unprofitable?

  23. @ sean
    “It’s the liberals trying to ruin a good thing they fail to see where the money from the weed sales and seed sales go towards national healthcare”
    I don’t know about you, but the majority of liberals I know, including me, want victimless crimes like drug use legalized.

  24. Crimestoppers is bullshit but you need a grand when you need it. Police Saregent Wisham along with police official Wynon Kroker are doing a great job disempowering milita gaurds that need cocaine bust money. You can thank State Court Judge Prather for that injustice. Dr. Hoffman’s invention won’t pay my way when stinky fatso don’t drop acid.

  25. These regulations could conceivably be a very good thing for cannabis users. One of the benefits of the legalization of marijuana we should be shouting from the rooftops is that it ENABLES harm reducing regulation just like those requiring coffee shops to be a safe distance from schools.
    All across the United States there are virtually identical regulations for bars and pornography shops and guess what, both of those things are here to stay. The people that do not like these things feel better, the children are safer, and responsible adults that want booze and porn can get it if they follow the rules.
    The foundation of coexistence is respecting the needs and wants of those you must coexist with. Some people whether or not it makes sense are afraid of marijuana. If we do not police ourselves, if we do not embrace the regulation that legalization will bring, we are giving them justification for their fears.
    I really want marijuana to be legal in the United States, but I do not want my granddaughter to walk past a cannabis coffee shop on the way to school! Especially the one I hope to one day frequent! If the tokers in the Netherlands respect the concerns of their detractors they will only make new friends; or at least they will reduce the number of their enemies.

  26. Anybody who’s watched Free Amsterdamn would like to go visit. As far as decriminalizing marijuana or legalizing it I agree that could increase real estate value and tourism. Are there any Netherlands folks reading this?

  27. If i ever win a contest i’ll be flying to Amsterdam. God only knows how a poor PI works what’s up with absinthe consumers anybody seen red absinthe in the P.O. box? Anybody getting bum rushed over cannabis vodka? let me know friends…

  28. Organized crime across Europe wants the coffeeshops to close so they’ll control the cannabis market. They’ll make millions and will use all that money for further criminal activities.
    It’s a sad day when organized crime and politicians agree on something. Just like in the U.S., the DEA and the Cartels should NOT be agreeing on the need for the prohibition!! That should be a major red flag for every American!

  29. I would like to second DJ Tom’s comments (second comment on this thread). There are so many benefits for legalization of cannabis. When people become educated about this issue, many times they see the great benefits of legalization. I for one did not know anything about this issue a year ago, and now I am a huge advocate of reform! It just makes sense! And you know what? Regardless of how long it takes, ideas that just make sense and are logical will come into being. It may take years, but it will happen.
    -David Carlson

  30. That’s just stupid, ‘moving them further from tourist attractions,’ drugs ARE the tourist attraction!
    Well that and the red light district, I’m sure.

  31. It makes perfect sense that they don’t want the drugs near schools and tourist areas. It’s not like they’re saying marijuana has to be banned, they are just saying that the area where it is sold needs to be limited. People frown upon bars being too close to schools, so why not marijuana cafes too? The world has enough problems with children being consumed by drugs, so why allow that problem to grow by allowing the cafes to be located so close to the schools?

  32. Brittany,
    The Netherlands, with coffeeshops near schools and all, has a LOWER rate of teen pot use than the good ‘ol US of A with our arrests and jail time and everything! Dont believe me? Look it up. All this does, is close tax paying business, cut jobs, and send teens that would be smoking to other shops, they dont just stop smoking. What if you owned a fast food restaurant near a school, for many years, and all of a sudden the government says, fatty fast food is bad for our youth, no fast food joints within 250 yards. Your sh-t outta luck and outta business, does this seem fair? wont the kids just try to hit the next fast food place? this is cleary just an excuse to try and close shops, driving the business back underground, into criminal hands.

  33. I can understand moving it away from schools, but only if is posing a problem.(Are under age kids hanging out in front smoking a joint?)The more people are exposed to a substance, I.e Weed, booze, etc, the less desire to have it. If you are going to demoralize marijuana ( the safest drug on the planet,no deaths ever recorded in the last 3000 yrs of its use, less a brawl breaks out over the last cookie) then you need to move Pharmacies away from schools, liquor stores, churches ( I say churches because I find them more mentally damaging then most drugs) because All the listed above pose a threat to a youths health and mind.
    When you stigmatize a substance, youth are more drawn to it. Perfect example is our own USA. We have the HIGHEST teenage alcohol problem in the world. More kids smoke cigarettes in our country then any other as well. When you limit the aces to something you create a “rebellious” demand.
    Perhaps if we spent more time and money on educating our people about the real health risks of most drugs, and alcohol we wouldn’t even need this blog.
    So until religion is pried from government, we will be forced to bend to its yoke.
    No matter what my fat Uncle Sam says, I still no whats best for myself, and my family.

  34. Thanks for clearing up the mis-information distributed by the media. As usual prohibitionist minded people only tell part of the story in order to further the agenda of brain washing the public mindset into the belief the marijuana is bad. I further the motion stated in an earlier post, that legalization would in fact open the door for both jobs and revenue, instead of costing money!

  35. I like the one that says:
    First, they came for the coffee shops, and I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t a coffee shop…
    But, they are only asking the shops to move, not close.
    I respect that.

  36. Lots of good posts here.
    I’ve been to that City Of Ultimate Freedom 3 times since January 2007. It is a great example of how things can and should be here. It was nothing like the current American government line of paranoid propaganda would have you believe. Only a fool or someone making a profit off the illegality of marijuana (criminals) would disagree.
    Imagine being told “It is now illegal to possess coffee”. Coffee is a drug and it’s pretty harmless. It’s no different than pot.

  37. All these things (NE coffee shops included) merely owe their existence to US prohibition.
    The Drug War is just too profitable to end hence the opposition from those guys getting fat off of it.
    Count the folks (and their wages) that live off prohibition besides the shops, cartels, growers, cops, legal profession, rehab entripses, prison profiteers etc. … and you will find it trumps the value of benefits from abolition of the marijuana laws.
    Slavery was a good business in its time and freedom for all wasn’t worth a dime to slave traders, owners, cotton growers and the rigamaroo around that lousy scheme. Freedom sure is progress for me, but slavery is so profitable for the ruler who thus can/will NOT let me have mine.
    We’ll see if Obama like all before him (except Carter) continues this futile war or if ‘yes, he/we can’ finally end it.
    The economic benefits could outweight the job losses at the DEA and their minions. Wouldn’t they be pissed?

  38. I wouldnt spend $100 for a pack of 20 class a Herbs..
    But the idea is what counts..Just dont put it in menthol, Fruity flavors would be nice…and have them make Ultra light versions, and Full flavor, and I garuntee you Marlboro will be the first to slap a label on them, after all.. Cigarettes are getting a bad rap, and soon they would have to fall on something.

  39. I doubt Barack Obama will bring as much change as everyone thinks. He just looks different and says the word change alot. almost every president elected ran offering change. There has been plenty of change alright, but not in any good sense. I doubt American laws will change soon because our government is controlled by banks, not the president. And it is also impossible for America to ever be out of debt. All American money is produced by a privately owned bank, the Federal Reserve Bank, and loans out every dollar at interest to the US government before it is distributed to businesses and people. Thus, every cent of American currency could never account for the full national debt, because the interest accrued will always remain. This basically means that America will always owe money to a private bank and it is impossible to escape without radical action bordering on or including another Revolution to uproot the current system. Oh, and because this system keeps expanding, soon it will reach its full limit and begin to contract. This means eventually all debts will be called due, which the bank has the right to do at any time, and the entire country can be repossessed by one bank. If you doubt me look into it. But America was bought and paid for over 100 years ago. One last thing, in the contract between the US government and the Federal Reserve, there is a clause called the “Suspension of Specie payments” which basically allows the Federal Reserve to cancel any contract without penalty and if they owe anyone money, under American law they can refuse without worry.

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