The Amsterdam Coffee Shop
The term “coffeeshop” was first created by the Dutch habit of running words together, and since its application, it has become synonymous with a special kind of coffee shop. As you may have thought, the Amsterdam coffee shops do sell coffee and have one or more table to sit and drink it, but much to your surprise, the primary commodity in the Amsterdam coffee shops is cannabis, the botanical name for the plant from which marijuana comes. They are now licensed by the local council and subject to regulation; however, a strict minimum age of 18 is enforced.
How the Amsterdam Coffee Shops Work
In Amsterdam, the coffee shops are not allowed to advertise, thus you won’t see a big sign saying “Marijuana for Sale”. So, if you don’t see the dealer’s booth, simply go up to the bar and ask to see the menu. You will be presented with a list of the different grasses and hashes available at a range of prices.
In most of the Amsterdam coffee shops, the cannabis is sold by weight, but there are some that sold it by value. Where it is sold by weight, the prices for the cannabis are usually per gram. There are about 28 grams in an ounce, but there are still other Amsterdam coffee shops that actually sell quarters and eights if you want. On the other hand, where it is sold by value, the menu will present the quantity, in grams, that you’ll get of each variety for a fixed amount of 20 euros, for example.
The Usual Prices
Being a primary commodity in most Amsterdam coffee shops, the prices of cannabis generally vary according to the location and type of the Amsterdam coffee shop. The heart of the city, the Amsterdam coffee shops sell the cannabis with prices that tend to be a little higher especially in places that cater for tourists. That involves both the connoisseur’s shops and rip-off joints. It is also worth noting that the Amsterdam coffee shops are prohibited to promote or advertise their wares and most have removed their menus from their web sites.
The Question on Legality
As you may know, the legal situation of Amsterdam coffee shops selling cannabis is quite complicated. International treaties prohibit the Netherlands from legalizing cannabis, even if they wanted to. However, the possession of a small quantity is considered to be a misdemeanor rather than a criminal offence.
Many of the people in Amsterdam are used to a certain practice in which the possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis is permitted. The people are allowed to purchase five grams at a time, though, so you could be asked to explain if you are carrying more than five grams. But, along with these regulations, the law prohibits the Amsterdam coffee shops from advertising, exporting outside of the Netherlands, using hard drugs, an excess of five grams, an excess of the maximum of 500 grams of stock, and sales to under 18 years of age. Incidentally, the 500 gram stock rule which as long been maintained by the Amsterdam coffee shops, is routinely broken by the busier shops.
It is now used by the authorities as pretence for occasional random raids to keep an eye on them.