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What you Need to Know About Visiting Amsterdam "Coffeeshops"


An Amsterdam coffeeshop is a place where soft drug use, like cannabis, is allowed. These establishments don’t serve alcohol. Regulations are in place to prevent the comingling of alcohol and soft drug sales within the same establishment. Here’s what you need to know if you’d like to visit an Amsterdam coffeeshop.

Premises Possession Limits

Coffeeshops in Amsterdam are only permitted to hold 500 grams of cannabis on-site. This is an effort to help control consumption, cannabis intoxication levels and public safety. The idea is to create a calm, fun social environment that all patrons can enjoy.

If a coffeeshop is found to have hard drugs on-premises, it can lose its tolerance declaration. This means that the establishment would no longer be permitted to sell cannabis and other soft drugs. It is only legal to purchase cannabis from a coffeeshop with proper certifications. Street purchases are prohibited.

Coffeeshops must be at least 750-feet from a school.

Who can Visit Amsterdam Coffeeshops?

Anyone that is age 18 or older may enter and purchase cannabis at an Amsterdam coffeeshop. Yes, tourists are permitted to purchase with valid identification. Each state is responsible for maintaining local regulations. Roughly 35-percent of tourists to Amsterdam visit this type of coffeeshop during their trips.

Residents and visitors have 183 coffeeshops to choose from to purchase cannabis from. That number is expected to decline as distance regulations continue to stiffen.

Outdoor Cannabis Usage in Amsterdam

The cannabis that you purchase from an Amsterdam coffeeshop does not have to be smoked there. You are permitted to smoke cannabis outside – as long as you do so respectfully. Public use is prohibited on children’s playgrounds and secondary schools. You are also permitted to take your purchased cannabis home to use – as long as you are at least 18 years old.

Soft Drugs Tolerated at Coffeeshops

The Dutch Government doesn’t condone drug usage of any kind. They do, however, tolerate the use of some drugs that they believe are a minor risk.

Soft drugs include:

  • Marijuana
  • Hash
  • Sedatives
  • Sleep-inducing drugs

Drugs like heroin, cocaine and crack are not tolerated. Those drugs are considered to be very dangerous to the Dutch – just as they are here in the U.S.

In the Netherlands, cannabis is considered to be less harmful than drugs like cocaine and ecstasy. It is still illegal, but isn’t exactly prosecuted in small amounts. Rather than a legalization policy, the Netherlands has a tolerance policy.

Closing Thoughts

A soft-drug tolerance policy is working very well in Amsterdam and across the Netherlands. Soft and hard drugs are essentially separated into two markets. Law enforcement is able to focus more on hard drugs and brush off soft drug use – mainly cannabis use – within certain parameters. This policy is accepted well among residents and tourists. It likely won’t be long before full legalization efforts make it all the way through their legislative process. Interest in Amsterdam coffeeshops has not dropped off, it continues to increase as attitudes toward cannabis have shifted across the globe.

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