Posted on

amsterdam marijuana

The demand for cannabis has kept growing year after year, despite official efforts to promote other tourist activities and to control the numbers of hotels and Airbnb rentals, with “cannabis tourists” being a nuisance particularly around the city center.

“We can be an open, hospitable and tolerant city, but also a city that makes life difficult for criminals and slows down mass tourism,” said Mayor Halsema.

Of the 166 coffee shops licensed in Amsterdam, 68 would be enough to support local demand according to the new plan, the official study indicates.

Enough is enough

A salesperson in a coffeeshop in Amsterdam. Face masks are compulsory in marijuana shops as in all . [+] indoor public places in The Netherlands. Photo by Pierre Crom

The shops have been allowed to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, but customers have to take their purchases outside.

The proposal follows the example of other cities in the south of the Netherlands including Maastricht and Den Bosch, which saw their coffee shops getting overloaded by visitors from Germany, France and Belgium and, as a result, already have banned tourists from their cities’ coffeeshops.

“Coffee shops, especially in the center, largely run on tourists,” Halsema said. “The increase in tourism has only increased demand” and attracted hard-drug criminality in the process.

When you enter a coffee shop there are few rules you should be aware of:

Some tips: Tips and hints for buying marijuana and cannabis from Amsterdam coffee shops.

What to do in Amsterdam while being high

Up to 19 November 2012, many of the coffeeshops 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 Amsterdam coffee shops and buy some weed.

Amsterdam counts about 250 coffeeshops and most of them are located in the Red Light District. From psychedelic to hipster-ish but also from very local ones to more touristic places, each of Amsterdam coffeeshops has its own atmosphere. You will surely find one that suits you perfectly. They are not only to smoke weed. They are real social places where you can easily meet people and spend some good times with friends. Watching TV, playing chess or card games and much more can be done here. And always in a very relaxing way.

Amsterdam coffee shops, not to be confused with cafés, have been a part of the city 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, Amsterdam coffeeshops have always existed in a legal grey area.

Government research showed 58% of foreign tourists who visit Amsterdam come mainly to consume the drug, Halsema said, while another study showed the city would support fewer than 70 coffee shops if only locals were served.

The city has taken several steps to reduce overcrowding and nuisance caused by over-tourism in the city centre, curbing the number of shops targeting visitors, clamping down on Airbnb, halting new hotel developments and increasing taxes.

Local businesses have largely welcomed the announcement. Robbert Overmeer, of the BIZ Utrechtsestraat business association, said cannabis coffee shops were “one of the most important links in the chain of low-value tourism”.

Non-residents face being banned from Amsterdam’s cannabis coffee shops as part of wide-ranging plans to discourage organised crime and cut back on drugs tourism that have drawn mixed reactions from residents and business owners.

Cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands but possession of fewer than five grams (0.18 ounces) of the drug was decriminalised in 1976 under a “tolerance policy”. Production remains illegal but the coffee shops are allowed to sell it.