Amsterdam is one of the rare places where you can purchase reputable quality weed and/or hash, in a public transaction, and not be branded a criminal for it - a fact that clearly holds wide appeal. Almost half a million travelers come to Amsterdam each year expressly because of its cannabis coffeeshops, and a quarter of all visitors step into a coffeeshop at least once on their trip.
But these establishments haven´t turned the city into a den of depravity; far from it -- for cannabis smokers, coffeeshops are simply a laid-back alternative to cafes, where you can relax with a joint and a cup of coffee, share a "space cake" with friends, or sometimes even have a full post-smoke meal. I find that individual coffeeshops can even be attractions in themselves -- not unlike small-scale museums with a focus on alternative culture and its self-expression. Each has its own unique atmosphere and scene, and a few are veritable institutions.
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