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What can the U.S. and Canada’s cannabis industry learn from the Amsterdam coffee shop scene?

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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The Netherlands is one of the most weed-friendly places on the map. The European country’s permissive cannabis laws have propelled the Amsterdam region into a must-visit destination for people who like to get high.

According to Statista, around 570 cannabis coffee shops were peppered around the country last year, a large portion of which can be found in the country’s capital, Amsterdam.

As the U.S. and Canadian cannabis markets gain momentum, there are a few things that can be learned from the cannabis coffee shop archetype.

Cannabis coffee shops help to disidentify from the gateway drug myth

For a long time, cannabis has had a negative stigma attached to it. Even before scientists started exploring the plant’s therapeutic properties, coffee shops in the Netherlands were operating in spite of “gateway drug” myths. Back in 1976, a formal written policy outlining non-enforcement for cannabis sale/possession violations up to the amount of 30 grams was introduced by the Netherlands.

The Dutch were clever in their approach to the coffee shop scene. Rather than letting the “gateway theory” deter customers, they used this as an opportunity to sell small quantities of the drug inside controlled settings. By developing a chain of coffee shops, the Dutch were effectively able to “separate the markets” by cutting the tie between casual cannabis consumers and dealers

Cannabis coffee shops help contributes to tourism and the economy

Shortly after the first coffeeshops in Amsterdam opened their doors in 1975, the “stoner” stores became somewhat of an icon of cannabis culture. Amsterdam is the famous destination for the annual High Times Cannabis Cup, not to mention a central meetup destination for pot lovers to tick off their bucket list.

Tourism levels have increased significantly in Amsterdam and other parts of the Netherlands since the coffee shop scene came to be. This surge in tourism is down to the simplicity that comes with buying and consuming weed inside a cannabis store/social smoking club. It has effectively put the Netherlands on the map as a place where consumers can enjoy the green stuff safely. As a direct result of this, the economy has strengthened.

Cannabis coffee shops deter consumers from black market deals

The black market is filled with danger and uncertainty. Many dealers will dabble in the sale and consumption of harder drugs, which can put unknowing consumers at risk of violence. Black market deals are also unregulated and therefore the consumer doesn’t really know what product they are getting, how good the quality is and whether or not it was grown in a chemical/pesticide-free setting.

Coffee shops in the Netherlands guarantee reasonable pricing, which deters consumers from straying elsewhere. With the same type of model, the U.S. and Canada can prevent criminal activity and reap the financial rewards while they do so.

Cannabis coffee shops encourage safe social smoking

Each coffee shop in Amsterdam has its own set of rules. These rules will usually be displayed in the windows or on the walls inside the store, so as to ensure consumers respect the policies put into place. By encouraging consumers to abide by the rules, the owners of cannabis coffee shops can keep underage consumers away and maintain the safety of everyone who enjoys a smoke on their premises. In addition to this, putting a limit on purchase amounts increases the chances of a consumer stopping by once they’ve smoked all of their stash.

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