Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Coffee Shops in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Coffee Shop Permit Sticker Sign
Terminology for accessing marijuana can be confusing. For instance, “volunteers” are people hired at a dispensary. “Donations” are payments for marijuana. “Coffee Shops” in Amsterdam are establishments that sell marijuana and allow you consume it, also having food... and drinks like coffee, but it's not the focal point.

Coffee Shops were set up in the 1970's in the Netherlands only allowing soft drugs. They have run in a legally gray area with the way they are supplied, and the licenses are non-transferable, once one closes, another cannot take it's place. Coffeeshop Union Bond van Cannabis Detaillisten (BCD) along with each city councils allow the coffee shops. A green and white sticker that says Coffee Shop is displayed in the window. Their are close to 200 Coffee Houses in Amsterdam.
The Netherlands have set up regulations on the coffee shops which include the following:

  • October 2011, THC content cannot be higher than 15%
  • 2012 Tourists cannot enter Cannabis Cafe's with the exception of the city of Amsterdam
  • No selling of alcohol
  • No selling to anyone under the age of 18
  • No selling hard drugs
  • No advertising
  • No sale larger than 5 grams
  • No public disturbances
  • Food with Cannabis clearly labeled
  • Cannabis must be non-contaminated.
  • Soon to be enacted – no coffee shops close to schools.

With the no advertising law, the cannabis menu is usually hidden from view. Outside signals are usually an Ethiopian flag or red, green and yellow rasta colors. Coffee shops that do not adhere to the laws could be forced to close for 3-six months, or if violations are too many, closed for good.

In 2008 a law was made banning the smoking of tobacco unless in a separate room. Many Europeans enjoy to mix tobacco with cannabis, and therefore many coffee shops have separate rooms for the smoking of tobacco to accommodate the law.

The drug policy of the Netherlands has a policy that does not completely make the coffee shop operation completely legal. The cannabis suppliers cannot grow or import for sale. In January 2006 legislation was introduced to have controlled growing. In 2008, Wiettop (Weed Summit) was formed by 33 Dutch Mayors to regulate coffee shops. Through this it was established to not let foreigners into coffee shops outside Amsterdam. Other policies however on their agenda a licensing cannabis cultivation and regulating the suppliers have not resulted in legislation.

Coffee Shops Outside of the Netherlands

Canada does not allow marijuana for recreation use. The city of Vancouver a few coffee shops, mostly all on the block of 300 West Hastings Street. Toronto has a few bring your own coffee shops that do not sell and don't allow tobacco and alcohol. In the United States, NORML has opened a coffee shop in Portland Oregon only for it's members authorized under The Oregon Medical Cannabis Program. Cannabis is not for sale, but given out free for use at the coffee shop.(Source)(Source)

In Colorado the Clean Indoor Act makes a Cannabis Cafe very difficult to open. Club Ned opened in the small town Nederland. The owners had to be inventive to work with the legislation to make it legal. They acquire funds through membership dues and have to employ a small number of people, allowing for bring your own cannabis to fully comply.(Source)


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