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A Little Coffeeshop Economy

Coffeeshops don’t pay any value added taxes or taxes on sales turnover because cannabis is not a legal product. But coffeeshop owners do pay income taxes; – in the highest category, in fact! The Netherlands’ last 650 licensed coffeeshops, spread over 101 municipalities, furnish the national coffers with 400 million Euros annually via the aforementioned income tax.

Statistics and facts

  • No sales taxes are imposed on the sale of soft drugs. Also, the government does not levy excise taxes on soft drugs.
  • In 2007, the coffeeshop business paid an estimated 400 million Euros in tax money.
  • In 2007, the total turnover amounted to approximately 2 billion Euros. The total amount of soft drugs allegedly traded numbered approximately 265,000 kilos.
  • 4600 people work in the soft drugs sector.
  • Almost a quarter of the tourists in Amsterdam visit a coffeeshop.

(Source: People and Health)

dutch coffee shop economyA calculation indicates that a licensed coffeeshop pays 615,384.16 Euros per year on average to the Dutch treasury. On average, a coffeeshop has 5 or 6 permanent employees in service. That means that a “bud-tender”, as tourists call our employees, contributes around 100,000 Euros per person to Dutch society. That amounts to something! But it is precisely this group of people who would lose their jobs next year if Minister Opstelten’s “weed pass” project goes into effect.

For the last 10 days, an inquiry has been conducted among visitors in all the 16 coffee-shops in Haarlem.

The first question is:
“Beginning next year, if you can buy and smoke cannabis in a coffeeshop only if you are registered in that coffeeshop, and your personal information can be viewed by, at least, the police, would you become a member?”
As far as we can see, the vast majority answers “No”.

The second question:
“If not, why not?”
Many people give answers like:
“It’s an invasion of privacy.”
“I’m afraid I’ll lose my job.”
“If the police can check, I could lose my driver’s license by being a member.”

And the third question:
“How do you think you’ll acquire cannabis next year?”
The majority answer:
“On the street, or from a house dealer.”
In second place:
“I’ll start growing cannabis myself.”

This means that the coffeeshops in Haarlem would lose 80% of their customers due to the obligatory registration, and thus 80% of their turnover, also. As a coffeeshop entrepreneur with high business costs, I know that, – left with only 20% of my sales, – I would have to lay off all my employees in any case because I could no longer pay them.

How is it possible that a minister can endanger the jobs of 4000 people who contribute 100,000 Euros per year per person to the national treasury, while he draws a 144,000-per-year salary from the treasury?

The inquiry continues for three more days. The results will be announced as soon as possible on

Nol van Schaik
Coffeeshop proprietor since 1991

Translation by J.P. Morgan