In the Netherlands cannabis isn’t legal however the principle of opportunity applies. That means the prosecution can refrain from tracing a crime if it is in public interest.
In practice the purchase and consume of cannabis in coffeeshops is tolerated, in case the users stick to the fundamentals that particularly prohibit, to sell hard drugs , to give off more than 5 grams per person a day, to advertise drugs, to store more than 500 grams of cannabis or to grant access to under aged people. By the use of the policy of tolerance the separation of the markets for hard and soft drugs shall be gained.
Generally it’s not allowed to sell alcohol in the coffeeshops but there are exceptions particularly in Amsterdam and Den Haag. Some coffeeshops there received a license during a so-called “policy of normalization” to sell alcohol. Most of the coffeeshops offer coffee, tea, juice, snacks and more.
Just like in every restaurant, bar and café in the Netherlands it is not allowed to smoke tobacco products and admixtures. However of course it is allowed to smoke straight cannabis. Partially the coffeeshops have separate rooms where it is allowed to smoke tobacco.
While consumtion and sale of Cannabis in coffeeshops is not prosecuted, this was never true for breeding and acquisition by the shops. This might either be called schiziphrenic or pragmatic. A certain proximity (of the coffeeshops) to a criminal milieu is almost inevitable. Especially since the demand, not least because of stoner-tourists, can only be met by large plantations..
Communes close to the border are also complaining about traffic problems, parking violation and generally about annoyance by stoner tourists for years.
Because of that there are a multitude of proposals for reform: Cannabis only for those who are announced locally, cannabis for everybody, to dispose all coffeeshops or to completely legalize all cooffeeshops under the custody of the state.
Because the government of the Netherlands wanted to turn all the coffeeshops into clubs 2011 where only registered members with a residence in the Netherlands could gain access, the situation for foreigners is unclear. An equivalent law was achieved in the southern border regions. The remaining regions were going follow in 2013 but because of a change of government they disclaimed a countrywide implementation of the law.
Today there are lots of specifics in each region at least in Amsterdam and Den Haag the access to the coffeeshops is still allowed for foreigners. However the so-called “criterion of distance” was tightened in Amsterdam which means the coffeeshops have to have a minimum distance (of now 350 meters) to schools. Also the selling of soft drugs in the red-light district shall be forbidden. Because of that many coffeeshops had to or still have to close.