Netflix Announces Crime Drama Set In Amsterdam’s Cannabis Scene

Netflix Announces Crime Drama Set In Amsterdam’s Cannabis Scene

Netflix has announced a new cannabis show based on a crime drama set in Amsterdam, bringing out the cannabis scene of the Dutch capital.

Netflix European executive Larry Tanz announced on March 19 the new Dutch original Amsterdam Empire starring Famke Janssen amid the international TV series festival Series Mania.

The seven-part series delves into the Amsterdam cannabis scene, following Jack van Doorn, the notorious founder of the coffee shop empire Jackal, navigating a career fraught with battles against criminals, rivals, and the complexities of Dutch regulations. However, when his affair with a prominent journalist is exposed, he realizes that his most formidable adversary has been close to him all along: his betrayed wife, Betty (portrayed by Famke Janssen), a former pop star, privy to all of Jack’s vulnerabilities and secrets. She is determined to take revenge on Jack by stripping him of everything he holds dear.

Written and created by Nico Moolenaar, Piet Matthys and Bart Uytdenhouwen, directed by Jonas Govaerts, and produced by Amsterdam-based Pupkin, Amsterdam Empire is expected to be released in 2025.

While Jack’s adventures may be fictional, they wouldn’t stray far from the reality of the Amsterdam cannabis scene.

The Netherlands Cannabis Scene

Amsterdam is, without a doubt, one of the main attractions and probably the most popular for the cannabis scene in Europe due to the Netherlands’ unique cannabis policy, which has shaped a distinct cannabis culture over the years.

Despite what one might think, cannabis is formally illegal in the Netherlands. But instead of implementing a prohibitionist approach, the country has adopted a toleration policy known as “gedoogbeleid.”

Under this toleration policy, coffee shops are allowed to sell cannabis under specific strict conditions. A coffee shop is an establishment where cannabis is sold, but alcoholic drinks are neither sold nor consumed. Although this policy extends to cannabis and other soft drugs listed by the government, it’s illegal to possess, sell, or produce hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, and ecstasy.

It’s worth noting that although it has been adopted by the Dutch government in its drug policy, the existence of the distinction between hard and soft drugs based on their harmfulness is currently a subject of scientific debate.

Coffee shops have flourished in the Netherlands since the 1970s. Today, there are about 570 coffee shops in the Netherlands, spread across 102 municipalities.

What makes the Dutch tolerance cannabis policy unique is that while it’s illegal to cultivate cannabis for sale, coffee shops are supplied by illegal farms, with law enforcement adopting a “turning a blind eye” policy.

Therefore, this creates a situation, also known as “backdoor policy,” where a significant portion of the cannabis industry operates through illegal channels.

Cannabis Tourism In Amsterdam

This policy setup has spurred cannabis tourism in the Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam, home to over 160 coffee shops, with millions of tourists each year flooding the Dutch capital. The popularity of Amsterdam’s coffee shops has prompted the municipality to launch a campaign to discourage young tourists from engaging in wild partying, which often results in noise and misconduct, and a ban on cannabis smoking in the Red Light District.

At the same time, the Netherlands has recently launched a pilot program involving ten municipalities—excluding Amsterdam—to monitor the sale of legal cannabis supplied from authorized sources. This experiment may indicate a shift away from the current tolerance policy towards an as yet undefined path toward cannabis legalization.

Cannabis Shows On Streaming Platforms

Therefore, given this context, it would be intriguing to see how Netflix’s Amsterdam Empire will delve deeper into the cannabis scene in Amsterdam.

Cannabis-themed shows are not new to streaming platforms. Over the past few years, numerous shows featuring cannabis have been streamed, including movies, series, and reality shows.

Among them are the Harold & Kumar movies, known for their cannabis-themed comedy and popularity from 2004 to 2011. Also, there’s The Marijuana Show, a reality series that intertwines entrepreneurship with the cannabis sector. Weeds, a pioneering mainstream series focused on cannabis, features Mary-Louise Parker as a suburban mother who resorts to selling cannabis to sustain her affluent lifestyle following her husband’s passing. Lastly, there’s High Maintenance, a highly acclaimed dramedy series that intricately connects the lives of New Yorkers through their shared connection to a cannabis supplier known as The Guy.