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Grey Area: Regulating Amsterdam's Coffeeshops

Published onMay 29, 2020
Grey Area: Regulating Amsterdam's Coffeeshops

This book was published by UCL Press in 2019. For more details, and to get an open access (i.e., free) copy, click here. Below is the book’s blurb.

Coffeeshops are the most famous example of Dutch tolerance. Yet these cannabis distributors are highly regulated. Coffeeshops are permitted to break the law, but not the rules. On the premises, there cannot be minors, hard drugs, or more than 500 grams. Nor can a coffeeshop advertise, cause nuisance, or sell over 5 grams to a person in a day. These rules are enforced by surprise police checks, with violation punishable by closure. Grey Area examines the policy with a huge stash of data that I collected during two years of fieldwork in Amsterdam. How do coffeeshop owners and staff obey the rules? How are the rules broken? Why so? To what effect? The stories and statistics show that order in the midst of smoke is key to Dutch drug policy, vaporizing the idea that prohibition is better than regulation. Grey Area is a timely contribution in light of the blazing reform to cannabis policy going on worldwide.


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