In The Netherlands, the selling of weed is tolerated. So-called ‘coffee shops’ sell marihuana. There is no pass system in Amsterdam, tourists can also buy pot and hash. But there are rules in coffeeshops, for example, that a person must be over 18 to buy.

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. You may smoke cannabis openly in the streets in Amsterdam. There are about 160 coffeeshops in Amsterdam.

2. Can I smoke pot in the streets in Amsterdam?

In general, there will not be any problem when you smoke pot in the streets of Amsterdam. But lighting a joint on the terrace of café or bar in Amsterdam is not allowed in most bars. The restaurant or bar itself does not allow it.

Coffeeshop Grey Area Amsterdam
Coffeeshop Grey Area in Amsterdam.

In some areas in Amsterdam smoking pot in the streets is officially banned. When this is the case, there is a sign. The reason is that young people smoking in the street cause annoyance for the neighbors. But you won’t get arrested if you smoke a joint in the streets in Amsterdam.

Sign that says smoking marihuana is not allowed.

2. What are the Amsterdam coffee shop smoking rules in 2020?

The Amsterdam coffee shops need to have a license to sell marihuana and hasj. Hasj bars also need to abide by certain rules. If they don’t obey the coffee shop 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
  • Stockpile of max. 500 gram
  • No alcohol
  • Not located within 350 meter of a school
  • The closing time is max. 01.00 am.
Coffeeshop Dampkring in Amsterdam.

3. Is weed legal in Amsterdam?

Pot, weed, marijuana and hash are free to consume in Amsterdam, as long as it’s clear it is meant for you personally. This means you may carry 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 € 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 four 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.

Coffeeshop Amnesia in Amsterdam.
Coffeeshop Amnesia in Amsterdam.

4. How much is weed in Amsterdam?

The prices of weed and hash in Amsterdam vary from € 6 per gram to € 20 and 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.

Weed and Hash menu for coffeeshop Abraxas in Amsterdam.

5. How do coffee shops get their weed?

Coffee Shop Amsterdam Westerstraat
Coffee shop in Amsterdam Westerstraat.

Coffee shops are allowed to sell cannabis and hash, but officially, they are not allowed to buy.

Growing marihuana is also not allowed in Holland.

Back-door policy

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.

Moroccan hash

All weed and hash that the Dutch coffee shops sell are grown and transported illegally. Most of the hash and pot are imported. The hash mostly comes from Morocco. Sometimes the names of the drugs on the menu tell you where it came from: Thai, Libanon, Afghan, Malawi, etc.

Dutch weed

The Dutch weed comes from Dutch growers. Dutch weed is often grown indoors with artificial light and in greenhouses. A lot of the Dutch weed is very strong, with high levels of THC. Amsterdam coffeeshops sell mostly Moroccan hash.

6. Are Amsterdam coffee shops banned 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 are 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 proof that are legal inhabitants of The Netherlands.

Amsterdam weed pass does not exist

In Amsterdam, the weed pass does not exist. Tourists and locals are free to buy weed in a coffee shop in Amsterdam.

7. How many coffee shops are there in Holland?

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 Holland have a coffee shop. 

There are about 160 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 coffee shop does not abide by the Dutch coffee shop laws. A coffee shop will always be closed by authorities when hard drugs like ecstasy or cocaine are found.

8. What is the oldest coffeeshop in Amsterdam?

The oldest, still existing coffee shop in Amsterdam is Coffeeshop Rusland. It was opened in 1975. It’s still at the same location. Another old shop is The Bulldog, also from 1975. The Bulldog now owns a large chain of coffeeshops in Amsterdam, including hotels and souvenir shops.

Hash 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.

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 heroin and cocaine swamped the area around the Red Light District: Zeedijk, Amsterdam Chinatown and the Dam, turning this area into a drug dealer paradise. Crime soured.

In the 1960s and 1970s Amsterdam was very popular among hippies. The hippies loved smoking marihuana in Amsterdam. As marihuana is not very addictive. The hippies were happy, peaceful people who did not cause many disturbances like the heroin junkies. The Amsterdam authorities, in their fight to get control, decided to focus on tackling the heroin and cocaine problem. The hippies were left in peace.

The Opium Act (1976) stated a strict distinction between soft drugs: hash and marijuana and hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. 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 has never been legal.

But since a few years, around the world, the laws against marihuana are not so strict. It is allowed to 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: hash, 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. The maximum penalty for possession is 4 years in prison and/or € 67.000 fine. The maximum penalty for dealing hard drugs is 8 years in prison; importing drugs to the Netherlands: 12 years in prison.

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Leave a Comment


wybe rood October 1, 2021 - 19:33

you state there are 170 and 150 coffeeshops in this article, which is it? You state that mellow yellow closed in 1978…this is wrong, more likely 2018?

Tanja October 4, 2021 - 10:54

You are right. Mellow Yellow closed in 2018. Last year there were 166 coffeeshops.

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