History of the coffeeshops
How it started Since 1976 the Narcotics Act has distinguished between drugs that pose unacceptable risks to public health (hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine, XTC and amphetamines) and hemp products (soft drugs: hashish and marijuana). Possession, dealing, sales, production and so forth have been made punishable for all drugs, with the exception of medical, veterinary, instructional and scientific purposes, for which permission must be obtained. Offences against the Narcotics Act are punished severely, but the penalties for soft drug offences are less severe than those for hard drug offences.
Top priority is given to investigating imports and exports of hard drugs, and the heaviest penalties apply to these offences.
As far as its national legislation is concerned, the Netherlands is not only bound by UN treaties, but also by agreements made among the European states with a view to combating the narcotics trade.
(Source: cannabis Policy, NDM, Trimbos Institute)