7 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting A Coffeeshops in Amsterdam
Would you be able to smoke anywhere in Amsterdam?
The short answer is no! The Netherlands’ marijuana laws may be relaxed compared to many other countries, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you can smoke anywhere and whenever you want. Lighting on the station platform at the airport (I have seen this happen many times!) is not acceptable. And if a local doesn’t walk by and tells you to stop, the police might instead. you have been warned!
Then, at that point, what is legal?
Technically, you can smoke in coffeeshops in Amsterdam (cafes that sell weed – and usually coffee too) but not anywhere else. In fact, you’ll catch that familiar sweet grass smell emanating from the parks on sunny days, and the police will probably turn a blind eye.
Rumors about laws changing – are they true?
Laws surrounding coffeeshops have been tightening steadily over the past decade, meaning the number of coffeeshops in Amsterdam has dropped from about 350 in 2014 to about 180, with the number expected to drop to 155 by 2016. You’ll still see there are plenty of coffeeshops around town, but you may have to walk a little more to find the one closest to you.
But why is it so? A few guidelines have come into power as of late, including a ban for coffeeshops inside 250 meters of primary schools and 350 meters of secondary schools. While this brought about certain terminations in Amsterdam, in March 2014 another law making it illicit to assist individuals with growing marijuana came into power. This law means that so-called “growing shops”, which sell seeds, lamps, fertilizers and other supplies, have also closed.
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OK, so you are at a coffee shop… what happens next?
You would be forgiven for being confused, as cannabis advertising is also illegal. This is presumably why numerous coffeeshops in Amsterdam don’t have official websites, so it’s difficult to get your work done ahead of time. Typically, you can ask to see a “menu” that lists all the different types of hash (solid) and weed (grass) on offer, and how much the chickpeas cost. If this all sounds like too much decision making, you can often buy pre-rolled joints so you don’t have to guess how many grams you might need, and how those rough ridges should stick together.
And then of course there are hash cakes…what about them?
Tread very carefully! If you’re not a regular marijuana user, half a hash cake is usually more than enough. Try not to be enticed to eat the other half when you don’t feel anything after 15 minutes. It takes some time (up to 2 hours) for the medicine to work its way into your bloodstream, and many evenings are wasted by unknowingly eating too many cakes before feeling the results. The effects can be mildly hallucinatory and often distracting – so make sure you’re in a comfortable environment with people you trust.
What else can you get at the Coffeeshops in Amsterdam?
Well, coffee, for one. Yet, some coffeeshops likewise have other hot beverages and soft drinks, just as juices, cakes and snacks. (Remember those “forums” you always hear about? It’s all true, so some sort of food is almost always available.) Drinking alcohol in coffeeshops in Amsterdam is now illegal, as is smoking regular tobacco. Is. So expect your pot to smoke “clean”, as it were. Some coffeeshops even supply vaporizers that permit you to breathe in the medication unadulterated without the symptoms of smoking—a luxurious bong, if you will.
What about souvenirs?
Don’t even think about it! Importing cannabis (whether seed, hash, hay, space cake, etc.) is illegal in any country, so it’s certainly not worth the risk of trying to take some home. That being said, if you’re looking to buy one of those t-shirts that has a green hash leaf on it, I guess I can’t stop you…