As for all the tourist draws of Amsterdam it’s true that coffee shops are everywhere and that a disappointing amount make ridiculous amounts of money by selling weed of questionable quality by attracting consumers with a deplorable amount of neon signs, rasta couture and loud music.
On the coffee shop tour I learned smoking isn’t “legal” as the EU doesn’t tolerate it but police in the Netherlands basically ignore that (not sure what they blame since there aren’t any skunks here). Also, a lot of the good stuff is bc bud. mmm, enough said. we then walked past a lot of good examples of bad places-I think i avoided taking pictures because it was a traumatic experience. However! i went to visit a few good ones with a Swedish girl i met on the tour and they were alright. I really liked Ke2 and have heard good things about blues cafe, the grey room and (Amsterdam’s oldest coffee shop) mellow yellow.
the red light tour was later. here’s the basics: legal, everyone has health insurance, min age 19 (i think, changes a lot), still have problems with pimps “grooming” girls, some drugs, (way less than van), the prostitutes are grouped by type for your shopping ease.
the tour went by during “tourist hour” so most of the ladies we walked past were surfing Facebook on their iphones.
Of course in the course of my stay there was a canal tour. pretty relaxing hour and a half. from the water the city looks very different, much older and felt like i imagined it would years earlier when it was bustling instead of mad with tourists