By Ken Sand

We all know this fact about Netherlands – they are tolerant and easy going, especially in their attitude towards cannabis use. The capital Amsterdam is famous for its’ Red Light District, the Heineken Brewery and of course, that soft drugs like marijuana and hash is legal to use. And keeping this in mind, a lot of tourists like to check out the coffee shop scene.

Many tourists just pop into the nearest pub and asks for a joint, but this is not the way it is done. Other tourists buy drugs from sellers on the street, not knowing that this is illegal and that they could face a hefty fine if caught.

Confused? There’s a lot of written and unwritten rules concerning the Amsterdam Coffee Shop scene and the distribution of soft drugs in the city. In this article you’ll find some useful insight into the Amsterdam Coffee shops.


What’s a coffee shop? First off, ‘coffee shop’ in Netherlands refers to a shop, perhaps a cafe-style environment, where you can purchase and make use of cannabis. Roll it and smoke it, use a pipe or opt for the bong. It’s all there in the coffee shops. While on the topic, keep in mind that a cafe doesn’t sell soft drugs and sticks to the traditional coffee-tea-and-cake version of a coffee shop. It’s also important to remember that regular bars and pubs in Amsterdam only serve alcohol. There’s no bongs in Irish pubs in Amsterdam. Coffee shops are the only place where it is legal to buy cannabis.

What is for sale in the coffee shops? Introductions apart, here are some important facts about coffee shops. Coffee shops sell soft drugs (marijuana, maybe hashish) but they do not sell hard drugs like cocaine, heroin and LSD. So, it will be a tad embarrassing to approach the counter and ask for illegal material.

Another thing to keep in mind. A lot of coffee shops won’t have big sign boards stating what’s for sale. You are more likely to see subtle signs like a Bob Marley cartoon, Marijuana leaf shaped stickers and pictures of joints. It’s also a good idea to enter and check out the menu (almost all have a menu stating prices and cannabis strength).

Cannabis is sold to adults (18 and older) so anyone thinking of visiting a coffee shop should take their ID with them. Typically, every adult is sold up to 5 grams (Euro 5 per gram). It might also be wise to ask the staff about the strengths of various choices on the menu.

What should you not do? Don’t sell what you buy to anyone else. It is also not advisable to carry around a huge amount (less than 30 grams for personal use can constitute a minor offense). On that note, check out the coffee shops and perhaps try some of the weed but taking any of it out of Netherlands is a really bad choice!

With all this in mind you should be prepared and ready to enjoy this part of Amsterdam culture. Enjoy your visit to the Dutch capital.

About the Author: The author and his Eastern European girlfriend is known to occasionally drink and party too much when visiting Amsterdam. Rumours have it that travel guide Dirt Cheap Amsterdam helps them stay on budget.


Permanent Link: