I lived in Amsterdam for 2 years and went to the University there. Legalization is great and should be encouraged but to be honest there were many shady things that go on in Amsterdam. There is definitely a lot of crime in the city center and the crime statistics are certainly underreported to keep tourism flowing. Amsterdam is a magnet for skeevy weirdos - foreigners that are drawn to the vices there. Dutch people are very insulated from these things - most Dutch people tend to be very clean cut and very intelligent. They don't engage in what is going down in the seedy parts of the city center and red light district. Most of the coffee shops are operated by foreigners. The prostitutes are mostly foreigners - each street seemed to have a certain nationality/type...one street would have African women, other streets Russians, there was even a street with old lady hookers.
I had a friend who ran a bar in the red light district so I saw a lot of what goes down there. When I would talk about it to my Dutch friends in class, they couldn't believe some of the things I told them went on in the their country. Outside of the center and red light district is a totally different place. The rest of the Netherlands is very clean cut. Dutch people are great, have great traditions and much tolerance. They have found a great way to deal with vice and it works - but its not without some problems.
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