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History of coffee shops

The coffee shop is a well-known Dutch phenomenon, which is now almost impossible to imagine without, especially in the large cities. In the city of Amsterdam you can hardly take a step without walking towards the next coffee shop. The coffee shop phenomenon now has a rich history that marks a period of 2022 years in 50! To find out how a new kind of shop was born in the Netherlands, where soft drugs can be sold, we dive back in time, to the run-up to the 70s. 1968 to be exact.

The forerunner of the coffee shop

In the late 60s, under the influence of the hippie culture, more and more experiments were done with (soft) drugs in the Netherlands. Likewise, weed and hashish were popular stimulants among the youth of the 1968s. Among other things, this increase in the supply and use of cannabis products led to the opening of a tea and coffee shop in XNUMX. coffeeshop in Utrecht where one could buy hash and smoking. This youth center, called Sarasani, is considered by some to be the first coffee shop in the Netherlands, but this is still disputed.

Mellow Yellow, the first real coffee shop

In the year 1972, another shop opened in Amsterdam, which was much more in the form of the final coffee shop as we know it today. Mellow Yellow, founded by the Dutch weed pioneer Wernard Bruining in a squatted former bakery on the Weesperzijde. Here they sold prepackaged hashish in pieces of ten and twenty-five guilders for the first time. This is a formula still maintained by most coffee shops today.

The bulldog

The oldest, and perhaps also the most famous, coffeeshop in the Netherlands is The Bulldog. This was founded in 1975 by Henk de Vries on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, the building where his father previously had an erotic shop. This building still sells cannabis today, and The Bulldog has emerged as an international brand in recent years with several coffee shops, a hotel and many weed-related merchandise and smoking aids.

Toleration policy

Since the late 70s, the number of legal coffee shops has increased enormously, thanks to the pragmatic and flexible soft drug policy of the Dutch government. It was permitted to carry small amounts of weed or hash in one's pocket for personal use, and the sale of cannabis by coffee shops was condoned by the government, despite the purchase of cannabis is still illegal. This contradictory legislation is also called the tolerance policy, and has been an essential condition for coffee shops to flourish in the Netherlands.

Stricter rules

In the early 90s, the number of legal coffee shops in the Netherlands had risen to almost 1500. In addition, there were said to have been many hundreds of illegal coffee shops. The government therefore thought it was time for stricter legislation, which resulted in a decrease in the number of coffee shops. Coffee shops were now only allowed to have a stock of a maximum of 500 grams, and the age for weed or hasj to buy was increased. At the end of 2020, there were still 564 coffee shops in the Netherlands, of which more than 160 are located in Amsterdam. The number of coffee shops in the Netherlands seems to have remained stable in recent years.


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