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Legalizing cannabis, recreationally or medically, has been a hot debate issue in the media lately. To see how the legalization could affect America, it is important to see how it is affecting other countries, such as Amsterdam, the only country where the production, consumption, and sale of cannabis are all legal.

Dutch Perspective on Cannabis Enforcement

The Dutch, what English speaking people refer to natives of Holland and the Netherlands, created drug policies that correlated with the idea that every human has the choice to decide what they want to do with their own health. Another idea that guides their drug policy is that hiding negative social activities does not make them disappear, and only makes it worse because when something is forbidden, then it will become difficult to influence and hard to regulate. Dutch officials have referenced the infamous prohibition of alcohol ban that happened in 1919 in the United States of America as an example of a failed attempt to enforce law over these matters. The crimes skyrocketed, and the ban brought more negative effects than the desired positive outcomes, therefore had to be repealed in court. The Dutch believe that cannabis is a private matter, not a government matter. They also see cannabis as a health matter, and no different from other health matters such as obesity, alcoholism, and tobacco consumption.

How does Amsterdam regulate cannabis?

The Dutch have classified street drugs into two groups: hard and soft drugs. Hard drugs include LSD, heroin, cocaine, and morphine. Soft drugs include cannabis, hashish, and hashish oil and are often sold in your local coffee shop. Smoking or vaping cannabis in public is completely legal, however the sale of it is still technically illegal under the Opium Act. Sale is still widely overlooked as long as it occurs in a limited and controlled way. Only adults are allowed to purchase a maximum of five grams at one time. 

Laws

There are strict laws regulating how much a customer can buy at one time in a coffee shop to five grams. People caught driving under the influence of the cannabis are treated the same as if it were alcohol. Minor offenses are typically not prosecuted because imprisonment is seen as expensive, and connected with negative social effects that the government believes outweigh the positive. Large scale growing, processing, and exchanging cannabis is illegal, however the punishments are not as harsh as other countries. Because large scale growing is illegal, coffee shops, which are legally allowed to sell, have a hard time obtaining the amount of cannabis they need to sell.

What about drug abuse in the community?

The Dutch government understands their tolerant policy is not the solution, therefore preventing drug abuse through programs that provide education, monitor the scene of drug abuse, and fight the consequences of the abuse by using other health matters. Hundreds of these programs are open in over 60 Dutch cities that operate daily and heavily influence the culture in the country. In the Netherlands, statistical data has shown that out of young people with a median age of 28, only 16% have reported smoking cannabis. They believe that proves that when it is widely accepted, the use will go down.

Amsterdam’s Iconic Cannabis Influencer(s)?

Green House Seed Company, winner of 35 Hightimes Cannabis Cups, 17 Highlife Cannabis Cups, and many more private and international awards within the cannabis community. This brand is considered one of the most successful businesses in the cannabis industry. They are a leader in cannabis genetics and their genetics is a result of years of intensive breeding. The company was first established in Amsterdam in 1985, and has expanded since into various markets such as street apparel. Their strain hunters are on a mission to bring from all around the world the most important and isolated cannabis strains.

The King of Cannabis is Arjan, the only person in the world to have over 38 High Times Cannabis Cups. His vision for the King of Cannabis concept was to normalize cannabis and promote positive cannabis culture to the media. He opened the first Green House Coffeeshop, and since then has established 4 cannabis coffee shops, the world’s most successful cannabis seed bank, an award winning cannabis film, a nutrients company, a foundation, and several other cannabis-related businesses. He is considered as one of the key influencers in the cannabis space.

Coffee shops are extremely popular all over Amsterdam, and their coffee shops are known for selling cannabis alongside a fresh brewed coffee. Arguably the most well known coffee shop in Amsterdam is Abraxas. The coffee shop first opened in 1992 and was created to be a place where people could come, talk, laugh, and have fun together. They offer what they call a true Amsterdam experience and have a gift shop attached to the coffee shop which sells gifts, seeds, t-shirts, hemp, and smoking accessories.