Amsterdam’s Drug Laws – Fact vs. Fiction

Travel Tips, What's New — By Anna Bandurska on March 23, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is illegal in the Netherlands! That being said, there is a high culture of tolerance of the drug.
In the 1960s, Amsterdam had a serious drug problem, with many people abusing hard drugs like cocaine and heroine. As a result, the city decided to make a distinction between hard and soft drugs, so they could better focus their attention on solving the problem. Hard drugs were seen as those that caused physical addiction, harm or even death to the user, or caused the user to behave dangerously. Soft drugs, like marijuana, made people lazy and hungry, but most importantly didn’t cause aggressive behavior, and never killed anyone.
As a result, soft drugs such as weed were tolerated by officials who could turn their attention to fighting hard drugs. Coffeeshops (which sell coffee and weed, not to be confused with “cafes” which only sell coffee), sprung up, creating a gap in the hard and soft drug market. This offered casual weed smokers a safe and comfortable environment to buy their product, separating them from drug dealers who may deal in hard drugs as well.
To this day the tolerance policy is in effect. It is tolerated for an individual to carry 5g of weed, and smoking is acceptable in coffeeshops around the country. The Netherlands’ approach to the drug problem also worked. Abuse of hard drugs declined, and surprisingly, use of soft drugs didn’t sky rocket – the Netherlands is Europe’s 7th largest consumer of marijuana.
Ironically, since there is a smoking ban in the Netherlands, it is only allowed to smoke pure weed joints at coffeeshops – no mixing with tobacco!

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