Holland Hash Bar
Coffee, Tea, Rolling Rock and other alcoholic beverages,
and Dutch home-grown cannabis are on the menu at Tops Coffee Shop on
the Prinsengracht (Prince Canal) in Amsterdam. A special license is required
to sell alcohol, but not soft drugs. Hash and weed are sold by the gram,
including a selection of Domestic, Foreign, Afghan and Manoli varieties
from the East. These soft drugs are offered legally in the 500 “Brown
Coffee Shops” in The Netherlands.
“The Netherlands is the only place you can do this. It’s illegal
where I come from, Suriname [a Dutch Colony],” said Jerry Wellie, the bartender
at Tops Coffee Shop, who has lived in Amsterdam for five years. “When you
smoke marijuana you don’t harm anyone,” he said.
“Following the liberal uprising of the 1960s and Woodstock, cannabis and
hash were commonly used even by members of Parliament,” stated Wellie.
Thus, about 30 years ago a law was passed to legalize soft drugs and brown caf´es
Approximately half the coffee shops in The Netherlands are located in
the capital city of Amsterdam, many in established residential neighborhoods.
“ The attitude is much more relaxed, maybe too relaxed,” said Theresa
Nylen, a modern dance student at the Theatre School in Amsterdam. For the past
two years, Ms. Nylen, a Swedish citizen, has lived in Amsterdam and she was astonished
when she first arrived in the country and went to a coffee shop. “It’s
an easy choice to make here,” said Ms. Nylen, “Just ask for the menu.”
But Veronica Hutton, a graduate student in finance at UCLA in California
said, “I don’t feel comfortable to smoke here. I only feel
comfortable in my own house.” Ms. Hutton was in Amsterdam to do
research for an American insurance company.
Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin posters are part of the decor at Tops Coffee
Shop, and Bob Marley music plays regularly. This dimly lit coffee shop
is equipped with video games and eight computer links, which are not
common at other cafes. Ms. Hutton cued up to use the computer at Tops
so she could e-mail her boss in America.
“ I wonder what my boss would say if he knew where I was conducting my
business from,” she said.
Six cafe tables and rattan chairs are nestled outside the front of Tops
Coffee Shop, where customers can sit and enjoy a cappuccino or a joint
as the canal tourist boats and leisure watercraft cruise by. This section
of the Prinsengracht Canal consists mainly of 17th century residential
buildings, The Van Halen bed and breakfast, Hair Point Beauty salon,
two bakeries and one of the many antique shops found in Amsterdam.
So when you visit Amsterdam and you see the abundant coffee shops, remember
that the menu may not be limited to just coffee or tea.