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World's First Coffeeshop Forced To Shut Down

January 9, 2017

The world's very first cannabis coffeeshop has been forced to close its doors.

Just prior to its 50th year anniversary of existence, Mellow Yellow coffeeshop in Amsterdam fell victim to government politics and was forced to go out of business on January 1, 2017.

The reason for the closure?

Mellow Yellow's crime was its location - it is situated within 250 meters of a school. That's a big no-no in Holland these days. Never mind that the school in this case is a hairdressing school.

A couple dozen more coffeeshops were forced to shut down as well on the new year mark.

It's all part of a drive by the national government in Holland to, um, weed out cannabis coffeeshops from existence.

It's also part of a bigger, ongoing game of compromises.

With Holland being such a small country, bigger neighbors like Germany and nearby France exert heavy pressure on Holland to scale back its liberal cannabis policy. Neighboring governments don't like their residents trekking to Holland in order to pick up cannabis and bring it back home.

So tiny Holland has to make the impression that it is complying with the desires of its larger fellow European countries to curb cross-border cannabis, while maintaining its historical freedoms for its constituents at home.

One way they did this was to introduce a national 'weed pass' system a couple years ago where only residents of Holland are allowed to purchase cannabis in coffeeshops.

However many cities in The Netherlands balked at the proposal, with the mayor of Amsterdam even stating that he will openly disregard any restriction which would bar tourists from coffeeshops.

A compromise was then made between the national government and local municipalities, whereby local governments could decide for themselves whether they wish to enforce a 'weed pass' system.

But some obscure language used by the Justice Minister at the time implied that all Dutch cities must 'eventually' comply with the restriction.

To avoid (or at least delay) enforcing a nation-wide tourist ban in coffeeshops, more compromises were made by the local governments.

In the case of Mellow Yellow, the compromise was to close down coffeeshops residing too closely to places of learning.

These concessions and compromises over the years have seen the number of cannabis coffeeshops in Amsterdam drop from a peak of over 600 to the current number of under 200. Brand new coffeeshops are not allowed to open.

So trail blazing Mellow Yellow coffeeshop has met its death knell. Opening in 1967 in Amsterdam's Weesperzijde, a fire destroyed Mellow Yellow in 1978 before re-opening on Vijzelstraat, where it remained until its January 1st, 2017 closure.

Can Mellow Yellow rise from the ashes once again though?

A glimmer of hope does exist as the owner has promised to lobby the city to allow Mellow Yellow to re-open in a new location.

Let's keep our fingers crossed.

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