As Amsterdam’s Oldest Coffeeshop Closes, Many Worry About Weed Tourism’s Future
Amsterdam’s oldest coffeeshop closed on New Year’s Eve due to new government legislation.
Mellow Yellow, which opened in 1967, and 27 other cannabis cafes in Amsterdam closed on Sunday due to a new law that prohibits the shops within 820 feet (250 meters) of a school.
“I tried to make the best of it but it was the worst day of my life,” the historic coffeeshop’s owner, Johnny Petram, told The Telegraph. “Mellow Yellow was the oldest coffeeshop in Amsterdam and now it’s gone.”
The law was passed in an attempt to stop underage marijuana use, although the city mayor’s office admitted that keeping the coffeeshops further away from schools will probably not stop kids from lighting up. They’ve been doing it for ages.
Mellow Yellow opened in 1967 when it found a gray area in Dutch drug law. Other coffeeshops followed suits and the original became an institution, with tourists and locals waiting in line to get inside.
However this is not the first time that Mellow Yellow has been forced to shut down. After the shop burned down in 1978, Mellow Yellow reopened shortly after in a different location, where it remained until Sunday. Petram is hopeful that Mellow Yellow will reopen in a new location sometime soon.
However, some fear that the closures signal a more aggressive approach to policing marijuana in Amsterdam. For years, the Netherlands has had something called a “Weed Pass,” a form of identification that only locals could obtain in order to get marijuana. However the law is not enforced in the country’s capital. A spokesperson for the mayor said that by enforcing the school proximity rule, the city was able to continue ignoring the Weed Pass rule.
Others are more fearful for the future of Amsterdam’s coffeeshops in general. Since the 1990s, the number of Amsterdam’s coffeeshops has almost halved (down to 175 from 350). The founder of a union for coffeeshop owners told The Telegraph that he feared all of the city’s shops would disappear within five to 10 years.
Amsterdam’s city hall estimated that about 25 percent of tourists visit a coffeeshop during their stay.