After 50 years Mellow Yellow, the oldest coffeeshop in Amsterdam and the world, closed on January 1, 2017. Mellow Yellow’s owner, Johnny Petram, fought back tears as he pulled the shutters down on his cannabis cafe for the last time. “I tried to make the best of it but it was the worst day of my life,” he said.
In the seventies Mellow Yellow found a grey area in the Dutch drug law. Since the opening in 1967 it set an example for many other coffeeshops in Amsterdam. It became an institution for both locals and tourists and one of the most famous and best coffeeshop in Amsterdam.
“Mellow Yellow was the oldest coffeeshop in Amsterdam and now it’s gone”
Now it is history thanks to a government-backed scheme to shut down any coffeeshops within 250m of a school. Mellow Yellow is one of 28 establishments affected by the legislation, which the mayor’s office candidly admits will probably not stop young people from taking up smoking.
Nevertheless the local authorities are persisting with the policy as part of a deal with the national government that will exempt Amsterdam from enforcing the so-called Weed Pass, which prohibits non-Dutch nationals from frequenting coffeeshops.
The Weed Pass has already been introduced to other parts of the Netherlands, but Amsterdam has hitherto resisted the scheme, arguing that it would lead to an explosion in street dealing. “If we don’t strike a deal we would be forced to enforce the Weed Pass and then we will have big problems,” said Jasper Karman, the mayor’s spokesperson. “In this way we can protect the remaining 167 coffeeshops in Amsterdam.”