Yes, there is coffee served in Dutch coffee shops. But there is a distinction between Amsterdam’s coffees shops and its cafes. The former, despite the name, make their money largely off of marijuana sales, with patrons buying an occasional hot drink or food item as a courtesy if they wish to smoke on the premises.
Nevertheless, coffee shop owners throughout the city breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan told the Dutch daily de Volkskrant that tourists would remain welcome to legally visit them, despite new country-wide regulations aimed at reducing drug trafficking.
Some 7 million tourists visit Amsterdam each year, with coffee shops being one of the primary attractions.
Here’s some more detail on the political drama surrounding Amsterdam’s coffeeshops, courtesy of Radio Netherlands:
The previous government had introduced legislation limiting the sale of cannabis to Dutch residents who had registered with their local coffee shop for a “weed pass”. The system was introduced in a number of southern provinces earlier this year and was due to take effect in the rest of the Netherlands at the beginning of 2013. Van der Laan and the mayors of other large cities have always been opposed to the system, saying it would lead to a surge in street dealing.
The new legislation does allow municipalities to determine enforcement, which provided Amsterdam the leniency to keep the local retail industry intact.