In the Netherlands, selling drugs is illegal. However, the Dutch government tolerates the sale of soft drugs in so-called coffeeshops. Their owners will not be prosecuted if their establishment meets strict requirements, the so-called toleration policy.
Growing hemp plants (cannabis plant) for the production of soft drugs is prohibited. The preparation of illegal hemp cultivation is also prohibited.
Requirements for coffeeshops
To sell hash and cannabis you must comply with the rules of the toleration policy:
- You may not sell more than 5 grams of soft drugs per person per day.
- You may not sell hard drugs (these are on list I of the Opium Act, in Dutch).
- Minors are not allowed in your shop.
- You may not sell soft drugs to minors.
- You are not allowed to serve alcohol.
- You cannot advertise your coffeeshop or drugs.
- Your coffeeshop may not be a nuisance to the neighbourhood.
- You may not keep more than 500 grams of soft drugs in stock.
- You may only allow residents of the Netherlands in your coffeeshop.
- You may only sell soft drugs to residents of the Netherlands.
- You cannot offer hash and weed online
- You may not deliver drugs to customers.
Coffeeshop owners must always be able to determine that the person to whom they sell soft drugs, lives in the Netherlands and is 18 years of age or older. To be able to do so, their customers are required to show a valid identification or a residence permit combined with an extract from the municipal personal records database (Basisregistratie personen, BRP).
Opening a coffeeshop
It is up to the municipal authorities whether or not they allow coffeeshops. When allowed, they usually require an operating permit for a catering establishment. Please note that different municipalities have different rules with regard to the sale of cannabis, many city councils do not allow coffeeshops at all or only allow you to take over existing coffeeshops. Contact the local authorities for more information (in Dutch).
The municipality will sometimes apply the Dutch Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act (Wet Bibob) before granting the permit. If it should emerge that you have a criminal past or that you have criminal connections, the municipality may refuse or withdraw a permit.