Access to and Availability of Cannabis in The Netherlands

"In the Netherlands, the sale of cannabis to individual users is tolerated by the mayor and not prosecuted by the Public Prosecutor if it takes place in a coffee shop which has a formal permit of the mayor and which adheres to criteria for non-prosecution which are defined in the Directive Opium Act of the Public Prosecutor (Aanwijzing Opiumwet, see Municipalities can apply additional local criteria, for instance with regards to opening hours of location (Bieleman, Nijkamp and Haaijer, 2013).
"• The number of coffee shops decreased in 2012 and 2013. At the end of 2011 there were 651 coffee shops, at the end of 2012 there were 617 and in April 2013 there were 614 coffee shops (Bieleman, Nijkamp, Reimer and Haaijer, 2013; see figure 10.1.1). After years of gradual decreases, there was a more substantial decrease of 5.2% in 2012 compared to 2011.
"• Coffee shops were closed permanently, a.o. because the formal permit was withdrawn after a negative outcome of the screening on the basis of Public Administration Probity Screening Act (BIBOB) and because they violated the conditions.
"• In 2012 the coffee shops were located in 103 (25%) of the 415 municipalities. Most municipalities (68%) have a ‘zero-policy’ with regards to coffee shops, which means that they do not permit any coffee shops. A quarter (25%) of all municipalities apply a ‘maximum policy’: they limit the number of coffee shops; 7% does not have any explicit policy with regards to the tolerance of coffee shops (Bieleman et al. 2013). This is largely comparable to 2011.
"• Coffee shops are concentrated in the West of the Netherlands (the ‘Randstad’) and in medium sized municipalities in the provinces. Almost half (46%) of the coffee shops is located in the three big cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague). This situation is comparable to 2011.
"• Municipalities with coffee shops have 31,523 inhabitants per coffee shop in 2012 (mean). This has not significantly changed compared to 2011. Amsterdam still has the highest coffee shop density per inhabitant: one coffee shop per 3,843 inhabitants."


Van Laar M.W., Cruts G, Van Ooyen-Houben M., Croes E., Van der Pol P., Meijer, R., Ketelaars T., (2014). The Netherlands drug situation 2013: report to the EMCDDA by the Reitox National Focal Point. Trimbos-instituut/WODC, Utrecht/Den Haag, p. 114.