Legendary figure Kees Hoekert (1929-2017) laid the foundations of modern Dutch cannabis culture, originally characterized by a tolerant attitude towards Nederwiet (‘Dutch weed’). Hoekert founded the Lowlands Weed Company in 1969 with artist Robert-Jasper Grootveld (1932-2009), known as part of Dutch protest movement the Provo’s for his ‘happenings’ on the Spui.
They grew thousands of hemp plants on the roof of Hoekerts’ houseboat De Witte Raaf (The White Raven). It was located on the Wittenburgergracht, directly opposite a police station! They sold plant cuttings for a guilder (about 50 Eurocents today), striving for the ‘hempification’ of society.
Hoekert received one subpoena after another; he repeatedly saved himself with incisive, humorous reasoning in court. For example, drying the flowers of female cannabis plants (the ‘weed’ sold in coffeeshops) was illegal. Hoekert defended himself: “I have not dried the flowers, they have dried! I threw them in a corner and then the flowers dry on their own.” The judge conceded, and Kees was acquitted again.
Thanks to the activities of pioneers such as Kees Hoekert, the Netherlands grew to be a leading country in the field of international soft drugs policy.
In 1987, cannabis entrepreneur Ben Dronkers, together with his friend Ed Rosenthal, opened the Cannabis Info Museum. Here, at this location on the edge of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Ben and Ed wanted to share their passion for the plant, and their personal collection of cannabis artefacts, with the public. However, the Dutch Minister of […]
The Lijnbaan building, later also known as the Sugar House, was built in 1660. It originally served as the office and front building of the lijnbaan (rope shop) of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). It was also the storage place for rope and hemp, the raw material for rope. Together with textiles, rope was one of the most […]
In the 17th century, medicinal herbs were vital to Amsterdam’s health care. Therefore, when the Hortus was founded in 1638, it was logical that medicinal plants made up the core of the plant collection. This was known as the Hortus Medicus. The Hortus today features a unique garden of medicinal plants which were grown there […]
In the 17th century Rembrandt van Rijn, one of the most famous Dutch painters, lived in this house. Whether Rembrandt ever smoked cannabis is unknown, but contemporary painters such as Adriaen Brouwer liked to extend their then-expensive tobacco with the flowers of locally grown hemp plants. The flowers were a by-product, as hemp was grown […]
Every cannabis plant starts with a seed. Just as wine has grape varieties, there are thousands of different types of cannabis, with specific characteristics such as flavour and effect. Enterprising cannabis enthusiasts have collected them in ‘seed banks’. You are in front of the first seed shop of one of the founders of the international […]
The opening day of coffeeshop The Bulldog on Oudezijds Voorburgwal is written in large letters on the façade: December 17th, 1975. Although the very first coffeeshop (Sarasani) was founded in Utrecht in 1968, the Bulldog (named after owner Henk de Vries’ dog Joris) soon followed. De Vries got a taste for the business after selling […]
Hash was popular in 1960s Amsterdam. Initially, little distinction was made between soft drugs, such as cannabis, and hard drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. In 1976 the Opium Act was amended so that soft and hard drugs were treated differently. Approaching drug use as a health problem was revolutionary. The ‘tolerance policy’ was born. […]
The transformation of raw hemp fibres into basic material for clothing, sails, kites, ropes, and everything that had to be robust and sturdy began at the spinning wheel. This tool was a source of income for some, a punishment for others. The Spinhuis on Oudezijds Achterburgwal was a penitentiary for women, founded in 1597 in part of […]
This is the only remaining 17th century shop in Amsterdam, and probably the Netherlands’ oldest pharmacy. Generations of pharmacists have practiced here consecutively since 1696. The small pharmacy room was simultaneously a shop and workshop. Cannabis was essential for historical pharmacies. In 1839, the brilliant Irish scientist Dr. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy (1809-1889) introduced the Western […]
Club Fantasio opened here on March 29th, 1968, one day before the Paradiso youth center. Paradiso was established in a church, Fantasio replaced a youth / community centre. From the beginning, both places were associated with the protest and hippie movements. Fantasio organized pop concerts and performances; Pink Floyd performed there. As a symbol of […]
The ship De Amsterdam is located next to the Maritime Museum. It is an example of the most important and largest type of freight ship used by the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC). After wood, hemp was the most commonly used material for shipbuilding. No other natural fibre is so resistant to the forces […]