For more than 4 decades the Netherlands have been know as the ultimate place to visit if you are interested in smoking marijuana. Cheech and Chong visited Amsterdam for this reason in the 70’s and still every year more than 2 million visitors come to the city to take a look in one of their many cannabis cafes.
But it is a mistake to think that cannabis is 100% legal in the Netherlands as the country has been having a policy of tolerance. Technically this means that cops will not prosecute anybody for smoking cannabis and it is allowed to carry up to 5 grams per person.
With more than 200 cannabis cafes the city of Amsterdam has the most establishments for purchasing weed in the country. But in the beginning of this year this freedom came in danger as the Dutch government decided to ban tourists from the cannabis cafes.
The government started an experiment in the South of the country, allowing only Dutch citizens to visit the shops and buy cannabis. The idea was that every Dutch citizen that is interested in smoking cannabis would register for a so called weed pass . This pass would allow every adult to purchase up to 3 grams a day from the shop they would register. But as you can imagine nobody was really happy with this new law.
In the bigger cities in the South it led to a higher drug related crime rate as many illegal street dealers started roaming the street and selling drugs to tourists, but also to local people that are not interested in being registered as a smoker.
Many rumors having going around that Amsterdam would be also up for this new law and that from 2013 tourists would no longer be allowed to smoke cannabis in Amsterdam. Many of my friends keep asking me if this is true, and some of them have taken the chance to visit Amsterdam before the end of the year, knowing that it might be their last chance to see the beautiful city with all of its plusses, including the freedom to get high.
Now the government has finally taken a descicion about the new system and decided that each Dutch city can decide for themselves whether to allow tourists inside the shops. Luckily for all of us, the majors of the bigger cities, including Amsterdam, have announced not to want to ban tourists from the shops. And as we speak, the city is still being flooded with tourists and the streets in the center still smell of freshly smoked joints…
But how does the law work in general in the Netherlands? Well, this is a confusing topic for many people as it is not exactly clear to everybody.
Dutch people, living in the Netherlands are allowed to purchase up to 5 grams of cannabis from a registered cannabis cafe, or coffeeshops as we like to call them.
Also it is allowed to grow up to 5 plants for personal usage. This means that as long as you don’t grow any in a professional way, it is being tolerated. Purchasing cannabis seeds online or in a headshop is legal and also all the things you might need to help your plants grow better are legally being sold in many so called grow shops.
The coffeeshops however are not allowed to have more than 500 grams of weed in their shop. But if you know that some shops sell more than 10 kilo’s a day, it means that weed has to get delivered to the shops many times per day.
Growing large amounts is highly illegal, meaning in practice that all weed that is being sold in the shops has to be grown illegally. The police bust about 5000 hemp plantations each year. Unfortunately they don’t seem to see a problem in that and although many politicians have mentioned that the best way would be to also regulate the growing, this is still not happening.
Magic Mushrooms are strictly illegal in the Netherlands since 2008. Magic Truffles however are not. These have almost the same effect as mushrooms and can be bought in any smartshop online or in smartshop that you can find in bigger cities like Amsterdam.
Alcohol can be purchased from the age of 16, but identification might be necessary. In general Amsterdam has a lot more to offer than just drugs and prostitution, but I felt it might be nice to clear things up a bit.