Why are coffee shops allowed to sell soft drugs in the Netherlands?

The government allows the sale of soft drugs in coffee shops in order to prevent people who use soft drugs from coming into contact with hard drugs. A coffee shop is an establishment where cannabis may be sold but no alcoholic drinks may be sold or consumed.

Separating soft and hard drugs

Separating soft and hard drugs shields the users of soft drugs from the criminal circuit that is involved in the hard drugs trade.

Investigations and prosecutions in connection with soft drugs

Possession of and transactions involving small quantities of soft drugs in coffee shops are accorded low priority in the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences under the Opium Act. The Public Prosecution Service gives these cases low priority because the use of these substances is not associated with an unacceptable health risk.

Municipal policy on coffee shops

The municipality decides how many coffee shops are permitted to operate within the municipality’s boundaries. Municipalities draw up their own policies on coffee shops, and set the admission requirements and rules with which coffee shops must comply.