Coffeeshop FAQ

No, but in the Netherlands we distinguish between two types of drugs: soft and hard drugs. By law both of them are illegal, but the use and possession of small amounts of soft drugs is decriminalized and regulated. This led the Dutch to having a unique drugs policy in the world. Although the use of addictives in general is discouraged, the Dutch politics reasoned that cannabis does not have physically addictive qualities, and are not more harmful than, say, alcohol. Therefore the Netherlands allow limited forms of possession and trade in soft-drugs.

The specific rules are as follows:
• You are allowed to purchase and possess up to five grams of cannabis. Possessing more is interpreted as if you want to trade it, which is illegal.
• Only specially permitted “Coffeeshops” are allowed to sell soft drugs, and never more than five grams per person per day. You have to be 18 or over to access a Coffeeshop.

The paradox in the Dutch drugs policy is that the growing and trading of large amounts of soft drugs is illegal and not allowed, yet Coffeeshops still need to buy their stock. This phenomenon is referred to as the “back door/ front door” paradox: Coffeeshops are allowed to sell (and pay taxes for it), but can not legally buy stock.

It’s not illegal to smoke outside the Coffeeshop, but things have changed over the past few years, and it’s no longer acceptable to smoke cannabis just everywhere.

Restricted areas around Central Station and the Red Light District have a “zero tolerance” policy. In other areas in Amsterdam where it is forbidden to smoke Marijuana, official “no-pot-smoking” street signs will indicate this clearly.

Although you are not expected to know local regulations, you might very well risk a fine when smoking in these areas.

Yes, with valid identification anybody over the age of 18 is welcome in a coffeeshop and can purchase hashish and weed.

Yes. So far there are only a few specific areas in Amsterdam where you are not allowed to smoke in public, such as the Red Light District and around Central Station.

For a first-time visitor in Amsterdam it can be confusing to find out where you can actually buy weed.

The key lies in the word ‘coffeeshop’. In the Netherlands, a coffeeshop (one word) is a place where the sale of marijuana and hashish for personal consumption is allowed by the local authorities. Coffeeshops can be found in most cities and large towns across the country but with 164 locations Amsterdam is the nation’s Cannabis Capitol.

An easy way to recognise a coffeeshop is the way it’s written; When you see a sign in the street with words coffee and shop written on it as one word, it signifies that it’s a place where cannabis is available. This spelling is associated with the sale of cannabis to such an extend that there are coffeeshops in Amsterdam that don’t even serve coffee anymore. Traditional ‘coffee shops’ (two words) also exist in the Netherlands but these are mostly establishments where you take your grandmother for cappuccino and cheesecake.

Another way you can recognise a coffeeshop is by the green-white sticker [see photo] on the door, indicating that the place has a licence from the city to sell weed.

And last but not least a way to find a coffeeshop is by just following the scent trail. If you smell marijuana in a establishment, there’s a good chance that you’ve found a coffeeshop. On the other hand, Amsterdam also has its fair share of so-called ‘420-friendly cafes’. These places serve alcohol – not weed – but do allow you to roll-up and smoke if you bring your own.

No, usually there is no obligation to buy something to smoke when you visit a Coffeeshop  However, like any other establishment you most likely have to order a beverage if you want to sit down. It’s also fine to smoke weed or hashish purchased somewhere else, as long as you order a drink.

You are legally allowed to buy 5 grams (of either) per Coffeeshop, per day. Medicinal Marijuana users are allowed to carry/ buy more. However they require a prescription. The grass, in this case, is bought over the counter at the pharmacy.

Due to changing policies, the number of coffeeshops in Amsterdam has drastically decreased over the years. In 1993 there were more than 400 coffeeshops. At the moment there are around 160 coffeeshops in Amsterdam.

Yes, there are many other cities and towns in Holland that have coffeeshops within their borders.
You can find coffeeshops throughout the country (See Coffeeshops Netherlands Map).

THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis, the part that makes you feel high. CBD is another compound in the cannabis plant which has therapeutic effects but no high.

In the Netherlands the Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) is the official government bureau that oversees the production and distribution of medical cannabis. It has a monopoly on all cannabis trade, import and export, and can decide on special exemptions to the opium act.

Within the Netherlands OMC distributes exclusively to pharmacies, pharmacy holding GPs, hospitals and veterinarians. Outside of the Netherlands they can also deliver depending on strict agreements between the associated authorities of both nations.

The OMC, in collaboration with the Dutch Health Inspectors, also supervise to ensure the medicine is not used illegally. Unlike the situation in America, cannabis in the Netherlands is prescribed by your local doctor, and picked up from your local pharmacist.  Read more

No, In early 2007 coffeeshops that served alcohol were forced to choose between cannabis and beer. Only a handful of these coffeeshops decided to keep serving alcohol and become a regular bars and cafes.

Although cannabis is exclusively available in the coffeeshops, other Amsterdam establishments are free in their decision whether or not to allow cannabis consumption. In other words; in Amsterdam there are still many 420-friendly cafes, bars and clubs where you can enjoy a beer and smoke a joint at the same time.

Yes, and we do not recommend buying anything from street dealers, especially when you’re surrounded by coffeeshops.

The prices vary between the different shops, and of course per Weed or Hash. All prices depend on quality, and sometimes quantity. (5 gram discounts)

– Mostly Sativas range from 10 – to 18 Euro per gram
– Mostly Indicas range from 8 to 16 Euro per gram
– Hashish ranges from 6  to 35 Euro per gram

Moon rocks (or moonrocks) are cannabis buds that are coated with hash oil and rolled in Kief (cannabis concentrate). Moonrocks are known for their high THC contect, although the potency of each batch of course depends on how it’s made.

The greasy texture of moonrocks makes it a bit difficult to roll a joint with it and to keep it lit. If you choose to roll a joint with moonrocks, its easier if you first mix it with flowers or tobacco substitute. Moonrocks are more suitable to be smoked in a bong or a pipe.

Just remember, the effects of moonrocks can be quite intense, so a little goes a long way.

The government decided on distance requirements between coffeeshops and secondary schools, as part of local measures. Amsterdam adopted the distance criteria in 2014 and as such, introduced the phased closure of coffeeshops that are located within 250 metres of a school. These coffeeshops loose their tolerance declaration.

The ‘Coffeeshop Pass System’ is something which is implemented only in the south of Holland.

No, but some coffeeshops accept debit cards but in most coffeeshops its only possible to pay with cash.

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