While restaurants, bars and pubs have been repeatedly subjected to strict lockdown measures in the Netherlands, cannabis cafes have reported a rise in revenue since the start of the pandemic.
According to Euronews, the first government-enforced lockdown in the Netherlands resulted in a “weed panic”, with long queues outside coffee shops, or cannabis cafes.
Despite restrictions on public gathering and travel, the shops – when they are not pressed by, for example, the Mayor of Amsterdam – have been able to keep up or, in some cases, increase their revenue.
Euronews reports that coffee shops in The Hague, where the Dutch parliament sits, are thriving.
This is almost solely because, while others in the hospitality sector have had some sort of limitations, the coffee shops were able to stay open and offer their products for takeaway.
A recently published survey found that 90% of Dutch cannabis users were smoking as much or more since the start of the pandemic, and three-quarters were smoking every single day.
In a country where the recreational use of cannabis has been adopted in the culture for decades, it shouldn’t be surprising that the industry has managed to flourish.
Stephen Snelders, a historian of drug use, suggests that people had a good reason to pick up a joint: they wanted to find a way to deal with anxiety worsened by the pandemic.
He said: “So it is not about people wanting to get high, to escape. It is more a way to cope with the everyday anxiety.”
While the coffee shops are part of the landscape in a number of big Dutch cities, Amsterdam could be the very first to ban foreign tourists from entering the venues. Recent reports suggest the measure could be introduced to clean the streets of “mass, low-budget tourism.”
Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema claimed: “Amsterdam is an international city, and we wish to attract tourists, but we would like them to come for its richness, its beauty and its cultural institutions.
“Coffeeshops, especially in the centre, largely run on tourists. The increase in tourism has only increased demand and attracted hard-drug criminality in the process.”
The plan caused an outcry among business owners, as they claim they are already struggling from the declining number of tourists visiting the city because of the pandemic measures.
An employee from Barney’s Coffeeshop said a few weeks ago: “It’s been a quiet year, definitely.
“Obviously [it’s better] compared to last summer with the corona[virus], but this year it started getting busy, but it’s still nothing compared to the years before.
“Only really French tourists have been coming over, French and Germans, not many English, not many Italians anymore.”