Seventies Coffeeshop Historywith a bit spilling over into the Eighties1976
The Dutch government made a big decision in changing their Opiumwet (Druglaws), by separating drugs in two major classes, harddrugs and softdrugs.
Heroin, Cocaine, XTC and amphetamines, chemical drugs with unacceptable hazards for national health, were and are considered "Harddrugs".
Cannabis products like hash and marihuana, natural products, without chemical addition, were and are considered "Softdrugs".
This step was taken to keep the users of cannabis away from hard drugs users, by allowing the sales of small quantities of cannabis from regulated outlets. By not allowing the sales and use of any other drugs in those outlets, this system successfully stood firm against those who accuse cannabis of being a gateway drug. By having cannabis available, the step to hard drugs could be prevented, and it did, the number of problematic hard drug users ( aka: Junkies) in Holland is the lowest throughout Europe. The minimum age for admittance was 16 years, until 1994, when the government changed that minimum to 18 years of age. That was very counterproductive, and should be changed back, to ensure the 16-17 year olds of a safe environment to purchase and use softdrugs, the street dealers that supply these youth's with cannabis from then, might also be involved in the dealing of hard drugs.1980
The coffeeshops in Amsterdam were an inspiration for smokers from the whole of Holland, and they started to open coffeeshops and teahouses all over the country.
Local housedealers came out in the open, and started to sell cannabis in former bars and cafe's, some in combination with alcohol, some with only coffee and tea. It caused some trouble in the border area's, when Germany started to complain about a youth-center in Enschede, that sold hash, that might attract German smokers! The Germans had it their way, the sales were forbidden. In other border area cities, like Arnhem and Nijmegen, coffeeshops started as well, but kept the sales low profile. The police left them alone, no trouble, no attention, no police enforcement.
All this drove up the prices of the hash, the buildings and staff in the strongly commercializing cannabusiness had to be paid, but still remained affordable for those interested. It was the Wild West era of coffeeshopping, nobody minded selling larger quantities, because there were no legal limits to the tolerated sales of soft drugs, only the 30 gram for personal use restriction, but that was never held in account during that period. The police was still to occupied with the heroin and cocaine smuggling organizations, they did catch and confiscate big hash transports, but the involved suspects were usually released after six hours. Thus, it was made easy for criminals, involved in major drug transports, to get their operations going, which led to huge conflicts in the 'underworld '. Hash had become big business. People and organizations started to rip each other off, or even intercepted loads on their arrival, nobody was to be trusted.
The police were always two steps behind, as they found out in 1987, when they realized they allowed the creation of a humongous monster, consisting of a couple of multi-billion hash-organizations, smuggling huge quantities to Europe and other parts of the world. It gave Holland a bad reputation, and lead to an isolated position in Europe and the rest of the world, who were calling the Netherlands a Drug nation.Source