A new law went into effect on 1 January 2017, forcing the closure of many coffeshops in the Netherlands, including the most emblematic of Amsterdam: The Mellow Yellow, due to its proximity to an educational center.
The establishment opened its doors for the first time in 1967 between the neighbourhoods of Jordaan and De Pijp. The creator, Wernard Bruining, took advantage of the legal vacuum in cannabis regulations, to allow customers could have tea and buy cannabis in the same place. Later, this type of establishment was popularised in all the city.
“I have Israelis and Palestinians in here smoking together,” Bruining says.
The recent legislation has been introduced by the local council, in order to avoid the application of the national law passed in 2012, which bans the sale of cannabis in the famous coffeeshops to tourists.
The Dutch government has been trying to change the image of the country, whose tourism is often associated with drugs and prostitution, when the Netherlands also has a huge cultural potential – the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House or the Rembrandt Museum. -. The new regulations aim to reduce both the number of coffeeshops – which has already fell down to 167 – as well as the windows of the Red Light District.
Local authorities tell that a prohibition applied only to tourists would have led to a proliferation of the black market for cannabis. Finally, they replaced the measure by restrictions for establishments near schools. So, since 1 January, coffeeshops can not be less than 250 meters from a school.
According to the Amsterdam Tourist Office, 1 out of 4 tourists go to a coffeeshop on their visit to the city. In addition, the touristic sector continues to grow: 17 million people visited Amsterdam in 2016, compared to 12 million in 2012; a city with less than a million inhabitants.