2017 got off to a bad start for cannabis fans in Amsterdam. That’s because Mellow Yellow, the city’s oldest and arguably most well-known cannabis coffee shop, was forced to close down.
Mellow Yellow was the latest in a string of closures. The trend is in response to a new piece of national cannabis legislation.
The Coffee Shop Details
The official reason for Mellow Yellow’s closure is that it was too close to a school. The city of Amsterdam has been shutting down coffee houses and cafes located within 250 meters of a school. So far 28 businesses have been affected.
Mellow Yellow owner Johnny Petram tried to defend his coffee shop. He pointed out that the only school his shop is close to is a hairdressing school. And students there are all at least 18 years old, and therefore old enough to legally smoke.
Despite his best efforts, however, Petram was forced to close Mellow Yellow. The coffee shop was the oldest in Amsterdam.
It first opened in 1967, and was a key player in pioneering the city’s cannabis coffee shop culture. Since then, Amsterdam’s coffee shops have become famous around the world.
The original Mellow Yellow shop burned down in 1978, but it reopened a short time later. This year would have been the shop’s 50th anniversary.
A Changing Amsterdam Cannabis Scene?
The city of Amsterdam has been shutting down coffee houses and cafes recently as part of a bargain with the national government. The Dutch government has been instituting what it calls the Weed Pass.
This is a new policy that restricts non-Dutch nationals from using cannabis coffee houses and cafes. Since Amsterdam’s coffee house and cafe scene attracts so much tourism, this could be disastrous for the city. City officials also said it would lead to a huge increase in the black market.
So, according to media sources, the city struck a deal with the government. By shutting down some of the shops the city won’t have to enforce the Weed Pass.
“If we don’t strike a deal we would be forced to enforce the Weed Pass and then we will have big problems,” said Jasper Karman, a spokesperson for Amsterdam’s mayor. “In this way we can protect the remaining 167 coffee shops in Amsterdam.”
This isn’t the first time that cannabis coffee shops and cafes have come under threat in Amsterdam. In fact, the city has lost nearly half of its coffee shops over the past 20 years or so.
Cannabis Laws Around The World
The Netherlands will have its elections this year. And many in the country think that if voters choose a more conservative government it could seriously harm the country’s cannabis scene.
Cannabis laws in other parts of the world could be changing as well. Canadian lawmakers, for example, said that they’d start moving toward legalization in 2017.
And in the United States, eight out of nine states passed new cannabis laws last fall. Four states legalized recreational use and four passed new medical laws.
Also last year, the Global Commission on Drug Policy urged the UN to call for an end to the global war on drugs. The UN has so far failed to make any sort of official statement on the matter.