The first cannabis “coffeeshops” emerged in Amsterdam in 1972 after cannabis was decriminalized in the Netherlands, with licensure beginning in 1975 with Coffeeshop Rusland.
The first coffeeshop to open its doors in Amsterdam was Coffeeshop Mellow Yellow in 1972 and since then over 200 licensed coffeeshops have occupied Amsterdam. As tourism continues to grow in the “city of freedom”, some of these coffeeshops have been forced to close their doors in response to the city’s efforts to combat “soft drug tourism”.
As of 2022, approximately 166 coffeeshops remain inside the limits of Amsterdam and repeated efforts by the City threaten to close a large number of coffeeshops and additionally limit tourist access to the remaining dispensaries.
New coffeeshops cannot be opened in Amsterdam. Existing coffeeshops may be transferred to new ownership.
The City of Amsterdam has released the following guide to illustrate the elusive ways in which coffeeshop ownership can be gained and maintained.
In June of 2021, Cookies Coffeeshop opened on Haarlemmerstraat, rebranding the former Greenhouse United, while Terps Army replaced Coffeeshop El Guapo in Spring of the same year.
Best Friends’ Cannacenter located in Amsterdam Centrum moved to Amsterdam Zuidoost and opened as a takeaway-only location in November of 2021 as a part of the city’s pilot coffeeshop relocation program. This trial seeks to examine the effects of reducing and dispersing the coffeeshops that saturate the city center with a goal of reducing the illegal trade and sale of hard and soft drugs across Amsterdam.
Despite the strict regulations surrounding the creation of new coffeeshops in Amsterdam, new shops occasionally open, relocate, or rebrand. To an individual dreaming of opening their own coffeeshop, it may seem like a long and uphill battle, yet not an entirely impossible one.