History of hashish and concentrated cannabis in the Netherlands can be tracked back to the Golden Age, when ships were rigged with ropes and sails of hemp from male plants. The division of male and female plants still happens today with the female plant being harvested for the use in street cafes. The medicinal effects of cannabis have long been valued and practiced across the globe, the difference in the Netherlands are the legalized public controls. There are four cities the Netherlands, when cannabis is actively being sold in a café environment; those cities are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.
Well known personalities in the Netherlands have made statements of this perceived drug being legalized in the future. Overtime crossbred plants have increased the quality and characteristics improving the cannabis from the earlier days. But it wasn’t until the 1970s that the Netherlands cafes were able to sell this natural plant, under conditions of controls and age restrictions. There is a distinction of “soft drugs” applied to the sale of cannabis giving rise to Amsterdam’s world fame of hashish and concentrated cannabis policies.
Legislation has placed restrictions on the cafes and violations of the imposed regulations are taken seriously, costing cafés their rights to operate without consideration. It may also eliminate the transfer of an operator’s license, which has caused the reduction of café numbers in the past. Cafes are not allowed to publicize themselves, are limited to amount of front door transactions and the café or their customers cannot be the reason for neighborhood disturbances. The cafes have assigned areas for business, with municipalities controlling the locality in relation to public school locations. Past drug experiences and the country’s history have limited the sale of only soft drugs in cafes. Hard drugs carry severe penalties and fines to the cafe owners and customers. One of the oldest and still popular café is called the Bulldog, located in Amsterdam on Leidseplein, opened its doors in 1975.
There are regulations in the Netherlands when it comes to hashish and concentrated cannabis in the Netherlands. The cafés are allowed to sell a limited amount to each person per day. Individuals can legally own a limited amount. There are also age requirements and most cafes will card individuals who appear to be under the age of 18.
1965 a movement to smoke cannabis openly in public aggravated the authorities and police begin arresting individuals with possessions over the allowed 5 grams. The Paradiso and Melkweg clubs are targeted for violations’ in Amsterdam. The popularity of cannabis continues and by 1969 the arrests related to cannabis possession increased to over 500.
During the 1970s drugs laws were administered keeping cannabis possession illegal to accommodate international treaties, establishing a police monitoring process leaving the small district area restricted and operative. These agreed conditions applied to the distribution amounts and limitations for a single individual. Larger amounts of soft drugs distributions, lethal and hard drugs still carry heavy fines and penalties. In the 1980s cannabis policies were amended to form government directives, sustaining the allowed smaller size distributions to consumers for usage and possession remain unchanged.
The winds of change are in the air, as one particular trait about the cannabis movements is observed. The gatherings are not violent, which evokes a change in attitude. Legal and political representatives begin to initiate an action to control the usage and possession attempting to decriminalize possession. In 2004 Belgium takes its first step to support the Dutch movement with Germany asking for tentative trials of proposed controls. Switzerland decides to maintain its position against the movement.
In 2010 the Checkpoint in The Hague was fined for violating the allowed stock amount of cannabis. As the end of 2011 approaches two new cannabis laws may come into play due to the increased amount of tourism to the cafes’ and the increased amount of THC in the cannabis. Cannabis containing 15 percent or more THC will be considered a hard drug with a ban on selling to tourists at border locations. Central city locations will resume business as usual. THC levels are based on specific behavior or risk factors that experts associate with higher levels currently being sold in cafes. 2012 is targeted to initiate a member’s only format for the cafes operating in the approved districts. Memberships will be issued to Dutch residents only with proof of citizenship.
Enforcement for behavior exist, like all mood altering substances, the user needs to be aware of their own manageable limits. Driving a motor vehicle, while under the influence is a crime. Riding a bike is acceptable if the rider is riding safely and behaving within acceptable limits. Transportation alternatives such as community buses or taxis are available, again the restrictions for these modes of transportation is acceptable behavior.