Monday, March 5, 2007

Amsterdam's Coffeeshops

Amsterdam is undoubtedly known for coffeeshops and cannabis. These coffeeshops sell coffee and have tables to sit at and drink it but, usually people are seeking cannabis rather than coffee. The coffeeshop phenomenon began in the early 1970's. It was then that the Netherlands realized the war on drugs was lost and that they had to find a way of reducing the impact of drugs on their society. The government sought to draw a clear line between hard and soft drugs and concentrated their law enforcement effort on hard drugs. Hard drugs include cocaine, heroine, and ecstasy, while soft drugs include hash, grass, and mushrooms. Coffeeshops are licensed by the local council and subject to regulations. Some of the regulations include no sales to anyone under the age of 18, no advertising, a maximum quantity of 5 grams sold at one time, a maximum quantity of 500 grams of stock, no exporting outside of the Netherlands, and absolutely no hard drugs. Coffeeshops are not allowed to advertise, but when you should see a dealer’s booth separate from the bar, but if not just ask for a menu. The menu will list the different grasses and hashes and their prices. Abraxas seemed to be a group favorite with its laid back atmosphere, two stories of couches and free Internet access when you buy a drink. Grasshopper on the other hand was larger and stuck me as a huge tourist trap with significantly higher prices. Having this map of coffeeshops can help you get outside the tourist district and find more local shops all with different atmospheres.

Jennie West

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