Coffee shops

Coffeeshops, not to be confused with cafés, have been a part of Amsterdam 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, coffeeshops have always existed in a legal grey area. Today, Amsterdam’s City Council, through agreement with the coffeeshop union Bond van Cannabis Detaillisten (BCD), allows coffeeshops to operate with the provision of set, non-transferable licences – shown by the display of an official, green and white sticker in the window.

smokey coffee shop outsideOne of the major events for coffeeshops in Amsterdam is the High Times Cannabis Cup, which takes place towards the end of November, during the week of Thanksgiving. This major smoking event usually leads to coffeeshop crawls and cannabis clouds throughout the city.
Amsterdam Drug Laws

The Netherlands has a special tolerance policy on soft drugs, but if we look at the laws:
– Possession of drugs is punishable, again, with a maximum of 5 grams of cannabis (weed, marihuana or hash) the police will seize the drugs, but 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, and use of soft drugs like smoking weed is not allowed either
Coffee shops

You must get to a coffee shop to buy weed. You’ll find about 200 coffee shops in Amsterdam, so there is always one close to your location. Although 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 licence sticker in the window. In order to enter a coffee shop, you must be 18 or over and have an ID. Coffee shops are not allowed to sell alcohol.
Most coffee shops have a menu. Since coffee shops 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.
Some tips

Tips and hints for buying marijuana and cannabis from coffee shops in Amsterdam.
Weedpass

To round it all off, we have or I should say had the “Wietpas”? What was it? Up to 19 November 2012, many of the coffee shops 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 a coffee shop and buy some weed.