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Is it really legal to smoke pot in Amsterdam?

Is it really legal to smoke weed in Amsterdam? I've heard a lot of conflicting reports... that it's illegal but tolerated, that it's legal to do whatever, that it's sort of legal in some places, and that it's actually illegal and you can get in lots of trouble. What's the truth about doing drugs in Amsterdam?


  • edited 4:53AM
    I am not certain of the legal situation, but I believe you can legally buy pot as long as it is smoked at home, or in a registered cafe. There are cafes throughout Amsterdam - but particularly in the red light district - where you can buy and smoke pot, with a long menu of varieties.
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  • edited 4:53AM
    Hi Wendy!

    It is technically illegal to smoke marijuana in the netherlands, but it is generally tolerated within the confines of coffeeshops and private homes. This all may change soon though, as the government is introducing new legislation to ban the sale of cannabis to tourists. You can read more about it on our Word Travels Blog here
  • edited 4:53AM
    The legal situation is about to change: a new Dutch law obliges coffee shops to sell to mebers only. Dutch nationality is required for membership. So, foraigners can not buy soft druge legally anymore. The law was oficially introduced 01/01/2012, but is not yet being enforced. It is to be expected that the law will be enforced starting April/May 2012 in the South of the country, and later 2012 further North (Amsterdam). Amsterdam city council is opposed to the law, so they will probably try to postpone enforcement.
  • edited 4:53AM
    @privatetours - thanks for the update... What is the reason for this I wonder?
  • edited 4:53AM
    @DavidF - there are 3 main reasons for this policy shift:
    -the current policy, where supply of the coffeeshop "at the back door" is illegal, whilst sales "through the front door" are legal has lead to large criminal networks getting involved in the soft drug business. No sales to foreigners will shrink their business. The city of Amsterdam is opposed, as are many citizens because they think this will only lead to illegal street sales to foreigners, the birth of a new generation of small criminals. The next shift in policy that is discussed is to let coffeeshops grow their own weed legally (the legal amount of plants per member) so as to completely eradicate the large criminal networks behind their supply;
    -pressure from other European countries has been growing lately, probably due to a general shift in politics towards the right in Europe;
    -the current Dutch government is the most right-wing in decades, with an important "law-and-order"-agenda, so giving in to the European pressure suits their own policy.
  • edited 4:53AM
    @privatetours - Great explanation, thanks! For the question is whether there is currently any violence, crime or social disorder linked to the use or trade of marijuana.. The answer I would bet is close to zero ... As soon as you try to control and suppress it, you are no longer incentivising people's better nature .. bad things start to happen!
    They should just tax it, which would lower consumption, then use the revenue to fund hard drug rehab programs..
  • edited 4:53AM
    Actually, because there are large amounts of cash involved, the trade does generate voilence, mostly murders between criminals involved in the business. Problem with the new situation may be the re-appearance of small street dealers (as before coffeeshops were legalized). Off course they need supply also, so I expect more voilence instead of less.
    The only viable solution for me are controlled cultivation and trade, and -indeed- taxes.
  • edited 4:53AM
    There's a large lack of knowledge among tourists visiting The Netherlands, especially Amsterdam. As Dutch national, I know what's about: by law, it's illigal to smoke, buy or have drugs with you. Although it's tolerated: you can buy upto 5 grams a day at a 'coffeeshop' if you're 18 years or older and can prove that by showing ID or passport. The law has changed recently, municipalities are now free to change their policy in opening their coffeeshops for foreigners. Many municipalities bordering to the Belgian/German border have said they'll deny non-Dutch inhabitants (people who don't own a Dutch passport or don't live in The Netherlands legally) to buy drugs, but Amsterdam is said to continue the situation as it was: foreigners are able to buy, smoke and carry weed as long they don't carry no more than 5 grams and are up 18 years or older. (The largest cities such as Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht have the same policy as Amsterdam). If not sure, ask a local or ask it inside the coffee shop.
  • edited 4:53AM
    Rutger is absolutely right. The law was implemented in order to stop unsavoury 'daytrippers' from ducking over the border to buy cannabis, which is less of an issue in Amsterdam. The best policy is of course to ask a local if you're unsure.

    Besides, if a person is only visiting the Netherlands to smoke weed, they deserve to be disappointed.
  • Just an update on this situation: it is now impossible for foreigners to buy or smoke weed in the coffeeshops of most cities in the Netherlands, but Amsterdam continues to hold out despite the new legislature that has come into effect in 2013. The coffeeshop culture is alive and well in Amsterdam and tourists are welcome but as the laws and social practices are in something of a state of flux at the moment it is advisable to do some up to date research on the matter before your trip and ask the locals when you arrive.
    It is vital that tourists note that smoking weed is often not tolerated in public places in Amsterdam - that is to say, you will be able to smoke in a coffeeshop, but if you are caught smoking in a park or square you could be charged, particularly if you are causing any sort of scene. Tourists do get arrested in Amsterdam for possession of weed and for smoking in public - it isn't unheard of. Just remember that it is and always has been illegal and be cautious with how much of a 'blind eye' you expect police to turn.
  • Its illegal but you can smoke it in a legal way by obtaining a drug free certificate but when the certificate expires and you don't renew it,you might get arrested when caught .
  • Ella makes some good points... tourists shouldn't expect to run wild in Amsterdam!
  • Yes, Afcourse buddy.. I know Amsterdam is known for its liberate drugs policy but even though There are special cafes where you go for smoke and buy your like cigarettes and wine.
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