In The Netherlands, the selling of weed is tolerated. So called ‘coffee shops’ sell marihuana. In 2017 in Amsterdam there are 173 coffee shops. In 2011, there was talk of a Dutch weed pass system. This not the case in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, all tourists and locals who are over the age of 18 are welcome to buy marihuana and smoke it in coffee shops but also in public.
10 Questions about Amsterdam coffee shops
1. Can I smoke in cannabis cafés and hash bars?
The smoking of drugs like cannabis and hash is not legal, but tolerated in Amsterdam. You can freely buy and smoke up to 5 grams of hash, weed, pot, cannabis and marijuana in special hash bars, known as coffee shops and smoke cannabis openly in the streets in Amsterdam.
Lighting a joint on the terrace of a nice restaurant of bar is usually not allowed by the restaurant or bar itself. In some areas in Amsterdam smoking pot in the streets is banned of the annoyance smoking youngsters cause to the neighbours. But you won’t get arrested if you smoke a joint in the streets in Amsterdam.
2. What are the Amsterdam coffee shop smoking rules in 2018?
The Amsterdam coffee shops need to have a license to sell marihuana and hasj. They also need to abide by certain rules. If they don’t obey the coffee shops rules of Amsterdam, they can be closed.
- No advertising
- No hard drugs, only marihuana products
- No entrance (and sale ) for people under 18 years
- Max. 5 grams per person per day
- Stock pile of max. 500 gram
- No alcohol
- Not located within 350 meter of a school
- Closing time is max. 01.00 am.
3. Is weed legal in Amsterdam?
Pot, weed, marijuana and hash are free to consume in Amsterdam, as long as it’s clearly it is meant for you personally. This means you may have no more than 5 grams in your pocket.
Strictly speaking, weed is not legal in Amsterdam. If you are caught carrying between 5 and 30 grams you can get fined for € 75. Carrying more than 30 grams of weed in Amsterdam, is a crime. You can get up to two years in prison and/or a fine of € 16.750.
Serious drug dealing like large scale production or importing or exporting marijuana can lead up to 4 years in prison and fines up to € 67.000 in The Netherlands. All other drugs, like xtc, cocaine or crack are just as illegal as in any other country.
4. How much is weed in Amsterdam?
The prices of weed and hash vary from 6 euros per gram to 20 and even more. The coffee shops have many varieties for sale and there is always a menu available. Candy with thc is not for sale in The Netherlands. The lollies and candy ‘with marihuana’ they sell at souvenir shops don’t have any thc (the working ingredient) in them.
Coffee shops in the center of the city are more expensive. Some force you to buy at least 25 euros. At some coffee shops in the center you cannot sit and smoke your own weed, you may only smoke the weed you buy there.
5. How do coffee shops get their weed?
Coffee shops are allowed to sell cannabis and hash, but not allowed to buy it. Growing marihuana is also not allowed in Holland. Having up to 5 marihuana plants for your own use is not considered a crime, but growing more than 5 plants is, and you can get up to 4 years in jail.
So the Amsterdam coffee shops have to sneak the drugs in through the back-door. As soon as it’s inside the coffee shop, they’re safe. This is called the Amsterdam back-door policy on soft-drugs.
This means all of the weed and hash Dutch coffee shops sell was grown and transported illegally. Sometimes the names of the drugs on the menu tell you where it comes from: Thai, Libanon, Afghan, Malawi.
The stronger Dutch weed comes from Dutch growers who grow often indoors with artificial light and in greenhouses. A lot of the Dutch weed is very strong and meant for export. Amsterdam coffeeshops sell mostly Moroccan hash.
6. Was there a plan to ban Amsterdam coffee shops for tourists?
In Dutch cities around the border of the Netherlands with Germany and Belgium, many foreigners cross the border just to buy pot in Dutch coffee shop. These cities say there is much crime and violence that is related to the drugs trafficking by tourists. To tackle the disturbances, in 2011 the Dutch government decided that hash and marijuana may only be sold to a person living in Holland (Dutch residents). Customers will need to show id and a proof that are legal inhabitants of The Netherlands.
In Amsterdam, the weed pass does not exist. Here, tourists and locals are free to buy weed in a coffee shop.
7. How many coffee shops are there?
The total amount of coffee shops in The Netherlands is falling. In 1999 there were 846 coffee shops in 103 Dutch cities. In 2017 there were 582. All these coffee shops sell a total of 100.000 kg of cannabis every year. This is about 70% of the cannabis that is sold in The Netherlands. About 30% is sold in other ways: home dealers and delivery service. Most bigger cities in The Netherlands have a coffee shop.
There are now 193 coffeeshops in Amsterdam. This about one third of all the shops in Holland.
Since 2014, the distance between a school and coffee shop must be at least 350 meters. Because of that new rule, 43 coffee shops in Amsterdam had to close. A coffee shop can also be closed on the mayor’s orders, when a cofee shop does not abide the Dutch cofee shop laws. A coffee shop will always be closed by authorities when hard drugs like ecstasy or cocaine is found.
8. When was the first coffee shop in Amsterdam?
Hasj and marihuana came to Amsterdam after the Second World War. The Americans introduced the pot in Amsterdam: American soldiers based in Germany who came to Amsterdam on leave and American jazz musicians who followed their tracks.
The first coffee shop in Amsterdam was Mellow Yellow in the 1970s (closed in 1978) (and Sarasani in Utrecht). The city council more or less accepted or tolerated the new cannabis bar in Amsterdam. The oldest, still existing coffee shop in Amsterdam is Coffeeshop Rusland in Amsterdam, opened in 1975. It’s still at the same location. Another is The Bulldog, also opened in 1975. The Bulldog now owns a large chain of coffeeshops in Amsterdam, including hotels and souvenir shops.
9. Why were coffee shops allowed in Amsterdam?
From around 1975 till 1990, drugs were a huge problem. Large amounts of hard drugs were flowing into the city (as everywhere else in the western world). Junkies addicted to heroine and cocaine swamped the area around the Red Light District: Zeedijk, Amsterdam Chinatown and the Dam, turning this area into a drug dealers paradise. Crime soured.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s Amsterdam was very popular among hippies. The hippies loved smoking marihuana in Amsterdam. As marihuana is not very addictive, they were happy, peaceful people who did not cause much disturbance like the heroine junkies. The Amsterdam authorities, in their fight to get control, decided to focus on tackling the heroine and cocaine problem and left the hippies in peace.
The Opium Act (1976) stated a strict distinction between soft drugs: hash and marijuana and hard drugs like cocaine and heroine. This law made it possible for more smoking houses to arise. For many years, Amsterdam was the only place in the world where you can smoke marihuana, although officially it is has never been legal. But since a few years, around the world the laws against marihuana are not so strict and you can freely smoke in some states in America, in Uruquay and Canada (2018). Weed Advisor is for cannabis consumers.
10. Are XTC, GHB, LSD, speed and cocaine legal in Holland?
An Amsterdam coffee shop can only sell soft drugs: hasj, stuff, pot, cannabis, weed and marijuana. Cannabis bars in Holland don’t sell drugs that are considered hard drugs, such as xtc, ghb, lsd, speed or cocaine.
Possession of hard drugs is a crime in The Netherlands. Maximum penalty for possession is 4 years in prison and/or € 67.000 fine. Maximum penalty for dealing hard drugs is 8 years in prison; importing drugs to the Netherlands: 12 years in prison.