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4. Varkenssluis

Bridge Damstraat – Oude Doelenstraat

Copyright Floris Leeuwenberg.

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.

Small-scale consumption and production of cannabis was no longer seen as a crime and therefore had the lowest priority for the police and the judiciary in terms of prosecution. Coffeeshops, which often already had a ‘house dealer’, could start selling cannabis and hashish in small quantities. Rules were imposed, such as checking the age of customers and not advertising their products.

Here on the street, the raw reality of the illegal hard drug circuit remained. This led to open trade in hard drugs, such as on this bridge, popularly called the ‘pill bridge’. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was frequented by many hard drug users and dealers.


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