As almost everybody knows, Amsterdam coffee shops do not sell coffee. It is more of a brand name for soft drugs shops, where sometimes you might get soda, but certainly not a good coffee. Recognition of the name "Amsterdam coffee shop" is so big, that hardly anyone questions its meaning. It is like "Starbucks coffee" certainly brings bucks to its owners, but not necessarily has something to do with stars.
Dutch principle is very simple - instead of spending millions on policing and executing the prohibition, soft drugs are allowed in the Netherlands. Coffee shops may sell marijuana (cannabis) and hashish (cannabis resin) provided they respect simple and strict rules: they are not allowed to sell soft drugs to minors (in fact only adults may enter the coffee shop, probably because of intense smoke inside), they are allowed to sell not more than 5 grams to one buyer at a time, they may have not more than 500 grams of cannabis in stock and the sale of the hard drugs is forbidden. Any breach of these rules means that the coffee shop license is revoked and the place closed. To keep the trade quiet and simple, the coffee shops do not sell alcohol or other products and you are not allowed to make pictures or use your mobile phone inside. The customers are not allowed to export the drugs they bought, and not allowed to possess more than 30 grams of them (ca. one ounce). Usually the price of one portion of a drug equals the price of a cinema ticket (between 5 and 10 euros).
For a photographer Amsterdam coffee shops represent a clear challenge. Since you may not photograph inside and in fact using your camera there is really not recommended, what remains is the outside view, which never will render specific smell, atmosphere and the aesthetics of these places. These are the places you should visit in person or just avoid them.
Free photo gallery of the Coffeeshops in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (also known as Holland). Pictures of coffee shops.
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