In two days of Amsterdam, nothing was more prevalent than the differences between regulation and tolerance. While researching things to do in Amsterdam prior to leaving, I came across many marijuana cafe’s, magic mushroom stores, and different shops that sold paraphernalia. From this I logically concluded that marijuana was legal in the city. I was wrong.
In the 1600s when the Netherlands defeated the Spanish and became a protestant nation, there were still many catholics practicing in the city. Instead of outright banning all catholics, “underground” churches were set up in houses that merely allowed for a slightly less obvious illegal activity. That tradition carries through to today with Amsterdam “Coffee Shops,” i.e. marijuana dispensaries that allow people to choose the brand of cannabis smoked.
Contrasting is the red light district. In 2000, Amsterdam made sex work legal and regulated it. Now the workers have many more protections including a union to ensure adequate pay and security.
I am unsure of how tolerance policies for drug use would work back in the United States as the U.S. seems to have many more issues surrounding drug use. One of the biggest fights locally for recreational drug use is for safe spaces to use drugs to ensure people who may be at risk, have the necessary resources.