Everything You Need to Know About Coffeeshops in Amsterdam
Amsterdam counts about 250 coffeeshops and most of them are located in the Red Light District. From psychedelic to hipster-ish but also from very local ones to more touristic places, each of Amsterdam coffeeshops has its own atmosphere. You will surely find one that suits you perfectly. They are not only to smoke weed. They are real social places where you can easily meet people and spend some good times with friends. Watching TV, playing chess or card games and much more can be done here. And always in a very relaxing way.
Due to the allowance of cannabis consumption, the Netherlands are very well reputed to be a very liberal country. This is true but you should be aware of the Dutch law and the rules inside a coffee shop.
Amsterdam weed laws
The Netherlands have a special tolerance policy on soft drugs, but lets look at the laws:
– Possession of drugs is punishable, but with a maximum of 5 grams of cannabis (weed or hash) the police will just seize the drugs. You can give them up and you will not be prosecuted
– If you have more soft drugs than the quantity for personal use (5 gram) you will be fined and risk a prison sentence
– Minors are not allowed to have any drugs, the tolerance policy does not apply to them, so you must be 18 or over to buy drugs
– Growing weed at home is illegal, however 5 plants or less you can give them up and you will generally not be prosecuted
– Hard drugs are not allowed
– Import and export of drugs is illegal
– You cannot smoke in public. You can smoke weed only in Amsterdam coffeeshops
Amsterdam coffeeshop rules
When you enter a coffee shop there are few rules you should be aware of:
- You must be 18 or older (21 years old in some establishment) and always have your passport or ID with you.
- You are allowed to come twice a day maximum to the same coffee shop
- You can buy maximum 5 grams per day
- Alcohol and cigarettes are forbidden
- You must not cause any nuisance
- The use of hard drugs is strictly forbidden
History of coffeeshops in Amsterdam
Amsterdam coffee shops, not to be confused with cafés, have been a part of the city since the 1970s, when the Dutch government made a clear distinction in the law between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ drugs. Unlike Amsterdam’s fully legal smart shops, Amsterdam coffeeshops have always existed in a legal grey area.
Everything started in the 70’s with the growing hippy community. Weed and hashish were illegal at that time, but places like the Paradiso or the Melkweg were famous to have great artists playing and people would enjoy some good music there while sharing a joint. That’s how in those music places we could find some house dealers. The dealers were though tolerated to do their business inside the houses.
In 1972, the first coffee shop opened its doors: the Mellow Yellow. At that time, the place was called a “tea house” and it was the only place where you could buy and smoke weed in an almost legal way. In fact, even if regarding to the Dutch law consuming cannabis was forbidden, the explosion of hard drugs such as heroin and the fast increasing amount of their users led the government and the police agreed that tolerating soft drugs would keep people away from the hard ones.
The owner of the Mellow Yellow – Wernerd – did a great bet with his business. He had no idea it was going to become so popular and then even a part of the Dutch history and culture.
Today, through agreement with the coffeeshop union Bond van Cannabis Detaillisten (BCD), Amsterdam City Council allows coffee shops to operate with the provision of set, non-transferable licences shown by the display of an official, green and white sticker in the window.
How to order weed in an Amsterdam coffeeshop
You’ll find about 200 coffeeshops in Amsterdam, so there is always one close to your location. Although Amsterdam coffee shops are not allowed to make any advertising, you will be able to identify them easily. Official Dutch coffee shops have a green and white license sticker in the window. In order to enter the coffeeshops in Amsterdam, you must be 18 or over and have an ID. Since coffeeshops are not allowed to do any advertising, you will generally not find any details posted on the door or even inside. Just ask the person at the counter for the menu, and they’ll give you what you need. A general rule of thumb is: the more expensive, the stronger the weed. For inexperienced smokers a gram of weed will get you high about 6 times and you should be able to make at least 3 joints nice from a single gram. Ask for advice if you are not sure, these people are here to make sure everything is safe.
Up to 19 November 2012, many of the coffeeshops in the Southern provinces of the Netherlands required you to have a “weedpass”, an official membership card which allowed you to buy drugs. These would be issued only to the locals. The idea was to stop the drug tourism. Nowadays an ID and the proof of residency (extract from the Municipal Personal Records Database) suffice and “Wietpas” does not exist anymore. Amsterdam has always been an exception, so any tourist could enter Amsterdam coffee shops and buy some weed.