Drugs In Amsterdam: The Facts About Amsterdam Weed, Coffee Shops And Head Shops

Many visitors want to experiment a little with drugs in Amsterdam. But Amsterdam isn't one big party area where "everything goes".

Only Amsterdam weed and hash can be bought legally, and only in the official coffee shops in Amsterdam.

All other Amsterdam drugs are banned. Head shops in Amsterdam are still allowed, but they cannot sell psylo's (magic mushrooms) anymore. Below are all the details.

What's Allowed: Soft Drugs Versus Hard Drugs

Officially, all drugs in Amsterdam are banned. However, for practical reasons, the government 'tolerates' the sale and use of small quantities of 'soft drugs' (marihuana, or weed, and hash) by licensed Amsterdam coffee shops. If you are over 18, you are allowed to own 30 grams of weed or hash, and you can buy up to 5 grams per sale in coffee shops in Amsterdam, and smoke it right there.

Coffeeshop Bulldog, Amsterdam

The famous Bulldog coffee shop

Funny enough, the nation-wide tobacco smoking ban in bars, cafes, clubs etc. means that you can only smoke joints (cannabis with tobacc) in Amsterdam coffee shops if it has a special smoking room.

If not, you can only smoke the pure drugs in a bong (water pipe), or use a vaporizer. You can also eat space cake here (cake with marihuana or hash baked into it) - but be careful, space cake can be very hefty. Coffee shops are not allowed to serve alcohol.

Using too much soft drugs in Amsterdam, or mixing it with alcohol or other drugs, can result in bad trips, panic attacks, blackouts, etc. Due to the long history of plant improvement, soft drugs sold in Amsterdam usually have much higher levels of THC (the active substance) than drugs at home. Don't be afraid to ask the coffee shop staff how to smoke it.

Don't Buy Drugs In Amsterdam Outside Coffee Shops

Don't buy drugs anywhere else. On Amsterdam Central Station, in the Amsterdam Red Light District and on the popular squares (Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein, especially), street sellers will whisper 'Psst! Cocaine! Ecstasy!' to tourists passing by. In reality, they may sell you either vitamin C, washing powder or anything else.

The same goes for drugs sold by individuals on parties, in clubs etc. Tests shows that in many cases, the pills don't contain what they are said to contain. Some dance parties etc. have drug testing teams that can tell you what's inside the pill you just bought. But this does not imply that all drugs sold at that party are safe - far from it.

The coffee shops that have a government license are the only ones who can legally sell marihuana and hash.

Smoking marihuana

Using Soft Drugs In Public

Dutch society is pretty tolerant towards soft drugs, but it's also very ordered. In most places, using soft drugs is not allowed and will get you a tongue lashing at the least.

Most bars, hostels, hotels etc. do not allow you to smoke weed. When in doubt, politely ask if it's OK to light a joint. Remember, however, that there's a nation-wide smoking ban in hotels, bars, restaurants, clubs etc. You can only smoke tobacco in their special smoking room, if they have one. But even if they do, again you can usually not smoke cannabis there. When in doubt, ask politely.

Smoking weed outside in public used to be no big problem, but officially it's not allowed, and during the last years the police seems to be stricter on this. If you're caught, you can get a hefty fine, especially when you're a nuisance to other people.

Walking the streets or using public transportation while stoned is usually tolerated when you behave normally and don't look too scary. As long as you can bike straight, biking while stoned won't usually get you into trouble with the police (even though it's banned) but it's still unwise if you're new in Amsterdam. Take public transportation or taxis, or walk.

Driving after using soft drugs in Amsterdam is a crime, and police may use drug test units to catch offenders. You may end up killing somebody while driving under the influence, so don't.

Magic Mushrooms Now Banned Too

For a long time, 'magic mushrooms' like psilocybins were allowed too. You could buy them in the Amsterdam head shops or smart shops. But since some tourists ended up dead after going crazy on mushrooms, they've been completely banned too.

Cocaine, Ecstasy (XTC), Speed (Amphetamine), Heroin, etc.

Besides cannabis, all other drugs in Amsterdam are completely banned. That doesn't mean you can't get them - in a city like Amsterdam, you can basically get anything you want.

Just know that you can be sold anything - unless you're an expert with testing gear, you just don't know what you're putting inside your body. There's no supervision or regulation of any kind. Especially drugs sold on the streets can be dangerous. Remember, if you're a tourist, it matters little to a drug dealer if you're returning to his business or not.

Why The Complicated Toleration Policy?

Soft drugs in Amsterdam aren't tolerated because the Dutch love them. Instead, the Dutch are pragmatics: they believe drugs will never fully disappear and allowing 'soft drugs' means the government can control and regulate it. Combating 'hard drugs' at the same time has the effect of separating both scenes and markets.

And it's true: you can use soft drugs in Amsterdam for many years without ever getting in touch with hard drugs. Experts agree that on the whole, drug use in the Netherlands is much lower than e.g. the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. This goes both for cannabis (weed and hash), cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and amphetamines. Of course, many other factors may play a role regarding these differences.

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