Grey Area

Regulating Amsterdam's Coffeeshops

Scott Jacques


ISBN: 9781787355934

Publication: May 01, 2019

What is this?
Coffeeshops are the most famous example of Dutch tolerance. But in fact, these cannabis distributors are highly regulated. Coffeeshops are permitted to break the law, but not the rules. On the premises, there cannot be minors, hard drugs or more than 500 grams. Nor can a coffeeshop advertise, cause nuisance or sell over five grams to a person in a day. These rules are enforced by surprise police checks, with violation punishable by closure.

In Grey Area, Scott Jacques examines the regulations with a huge stash of data, which he collected during two years of fieldwork in Amsterdam. How do coffeeshop owners and staff obey the rules? How are the rules broken? Why so? To what effect? The stories and statistics show that order in the midst of smoke is key to Dutch drug policy, vaporising the idea that prohibition is better than regulation. Grey Area is a timely contribution in light of the blazing reform to cannabis policy worldwide.

Praise for Grey Area

‘This book is original and highly topical. Logical and well structured, the discussion is firmly located in a large body of contemporary theory. The writing style is conversational, open and accessible. The quality, amount and depth of the empirical work that Jacques has undertaken made me feel that I was there, visiting the coffeeshops with him. Rarely have I seen something as careful and detailed as this work.’
Ronald V. Clarke, Rutgers University, USA

'This book examines the intricacies of operating between law and rules in Amsterdam coffeeshops. Based on an extensive fieldwork, it is arguably the most comprehensive criminological analysis of the issue to date. This is an important work, from an excellent writer, that I warmly recommend to both students and researchers.’
Kim Møller, Malmö University, Sweden

Scott Jacques is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. His research focuses on offender decision-making, especially that of drug dealers, and theorising method. His first book is Code of the Suburb: Inside the World of Young Middle-Class Drug Dealers (University of Chicago Press). To learn more, visit

Introduction  The Law and Rules                                                          

1. 500 Grams                                                                        

2. Advertising                                                                        

3. Minors                                                                               

4. 5 Grams                                                                          

5. Hard Drugs                                                                      

6. Nuisance                                                                          

Conclusion    The Utility of Rules                                                        

Format: Open Access HTML

12 colour illustrations Illustrations

12 colour illustrations

Copyright: © 2019

ISBN: 9781787355934

Publication: May 01, 2019

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