Amsterdam is a place that many want to visit at least once in their lives. Of course, some travelers strive for the beauty of the ancient city—its canals, architecture, and amazing museums. However, for most people, Amsterdam is a cannabis mecca. Being the capital of all stoners, the city's main attraction are its coffeeshops.
If you were lucky to visit Amsterdam even for a short period of time, you will never forget its magnificent atmosphere of a fairy-tale and its distinctive marijuana odor that fills every street and every corner. The city is full of coffeeshops, and each one of them has its own spirit and “flavor.” Together they are like a Disneyland for adults. Just a decade ago, when the U.S. was only beginning its way to marijuana legalization, the stories of pot omnipresence in Amsterdam were buying thousands of tickets to Europe. However, not everything is as perfect in the city now.
Today, more and more famous Amsterdam coffeeshops are closing their doors. The reason is the increase of restrictive laws and regulations. Some of the most legendary shops are closing fast.
Cannabis has always been illegal in the Netherlands. But because of the fact that the enforcement measures are selective, coffeeshops can work and visitors are allowed to smoke. There were attempts to eliminate the attraction and close all shops once and for all. Some cities in the country were forced to limit access for Dutch citizens and exclude foreign incomers. However, Amsterdam resisted the new regulation known as the Weed Pass and did not give away its main income.
In Amsterdam, the restrictions mainly concern the location of coffeeshops, that are now not allowed to be placed near schools. Shutting down the shops is the only way the Amsterdam authorities can avoid the rage of the national government and the horrible Weed Pass, which will ban marijuana for everybody who is not Dutch. In a way, closing a few coffeeshops is a small prize to pay in this case. Many shops are targeted because of this restriction. The Mellow Yellow, for example, is the very first shop that sold cannabis. It was opened in 1967. However, the place will not live until its 50th birthday because of the neighboring school. And it is not the only legendary coffeeshop that is in danger. In general, 28 establishments will be closed.
Besides, since 2007, the number of marijuana-selling shops decreased almost by half. Today, there are 175 coffeeshops in the city, while in 1990's the number was 350.
Another recent occurrence that has influenced the life of many Amsterdam coffeeshops is known in the U.S. as well—gentrification. It is the process of the renovation of deteriorated urban neighborhoods. Amsterdam is famous not only for the abundance of pot but as a city of sex tourism as well. So, due to gentrification, the country's capital lost not only several coffeeshops but also some sex shops and brothels.
The city's authorities and tourism officials are trying to preserve both coffeeshops and brothels. They are a big part of Amsterdam's appeal as about one-third of tourists visit the establishments. Losing them all would mean losing a great part of income.
The closing of shops makes the remaining ones very busy. The founder of a union of coffeeshops owners, August de Loor, claims that they are already losing the social part and becoming simple weed supermarkets. You buy marijuana and get out. He thinks that this development is terrible.
The situation may seem familiar for the U.S. stoners who rarely have an opportunity to legally consume cannabis at a designated place.