How many coffee shops in the Netherlands and Amsterdam?

As a Dutch person you have undoubtedly encountered them during a walk through your city. Coffee shops are a typically Dutch phenomenon that emerged in the 70s and took its current form. Nowadays, the coffee shop has become an integral part of the big city and it is a phenomenon that has spread throughout the country without exception. How many coffee shops are there in the Netherlands these days, and which part of them are located in the capital of our country?

Toleration policy

Thanks to the flexible government legislation, a climate was created in which it was possible in a 'legal' way cannabis products to sell. Since then, more and more coffee shops have been added in the Netherlands, each with its own appearance and atmosphere. Certainly in the early years there were few rules, and the rules that did exist were very flexible. The tolerance policy was the result of the distinction between hard and soft drugs, which the Dutch government deemed necessary. According to them, soft drugs were not nearly as harmful and disruptive to society as hard drugs, so the police and law enforcement officers were less concerned with detecting and punishing trade and the use of soft drugs.

Stricter rules and legislation

In these early years, (legal) coffee shops sprang up, reaching a peak of around 1500 coffee shops in the Netherlands in the 90s. In addition, there were still a large number of 'underground' coffee shops that had no legal or recognized status. This changed in the late XNUMXs, when stricter legislation was introduced for the trade in weed and… hasj. Since the turn of the millennium, the number of coffee shops has therefore decreased, until it stabilized to a somewhat fixed number around 2016.

The current state of affairs

The Dutch coffee shops are subdivided into 102 coffee shop municipalities. All these municipalities have a coffee shop policy in which a maximum is set for the number of allowed coffee shops in that municipality. In approximately 85% of these coffee shop municipalities, the number of operational coffee shops is equal to the established maximum number. This shows that the coffee shop landscape in the Netherlands is largely saturated. At the end of 2020, there were a total of 564 coffee shops in the Netherlands. By far the largest part of this is located in the capital Amsterdam. These shops therefore meet the largest part of the demand for cannabis in the country, especially among tourists.


The (near) future of the Dutch coffee shop as a phenomenon will probably not differ much from the present time. For many Dutch people, the coffee shop is a popular place and it is simply ingrained in the Dutch culture. In the field of legislation around shops that cannabis selling little or nothing is changed, and this while interesting political developments are taking place in more and more countries, including our neighboring country Germany. Much cannabis tourism in the Netherlands, and in Amsterdam in particular, is of course driven by the lack of 'legal' and high-quality weed and hasj in those countries from which tourists come. If these countries legalize and regulate the sale of weed, it is a logical consequence that cannabis tourism in the Netherlands and Amsterdam will decrease sharply. This in turn can have consequences for the total number of coffee shops.

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