Amsterdam Coffee Shops
Amsterdam coffee shops are famous all over the world, but not for the (sometimes) great coffee. There is rumoured to be over 200 coffee shops in and around Amsterdam but in my time there I had found maybe 20. If you are unsure if you have found a coffee shop or a Coffeeshop, just follow your nose. If it smells like weed the menu might not have a great selection of coffee but they will have a great selection of weed.
Amsterdam Weed Laws
Cannabis is NOT legal in the Netherlands, it is tolerated.
This means if you skin up in the street or smoke a reefer while walking down De Walden you will be frowned at by the locals and possibly the police.
Carrying less than 5 grams on your person is the recommended amount to stay out of trouble.
Most coffee shops have an inside area where you can roll a joint if you bought it from them providing you don’t use tobacco. The EU tobacco laws concerning smoking inside are still relevant in Amsterdam and I felt that tobacco is less tolerated than the weed.
Some Amsterdam coffee shops have ‘rolling mix’ you can use inside that they supply for free although it may not be obvious so you will have to ask the staff if there is none on the counter. Rizzlas, grinders, roach and lighters are also available at most places.
A lot of the Amsterdam coffee shops have a small outside area where you can smoke a joint with tobacco as it is outside. I found fewer people smoke weed with tobacco than in the UK (not that anyone smokes weed in the UK because it is illegal) Blunts and joints with rolling mix seem to be the norm in the Netherlands.
For more information on the drug laws in Amsterdam, check out Amsterdam info
Don’t be all touristy about it
If you are used to cannabis or not, rocking up to a coffee shop and ordering an 8 euro blunt will have an effect on you. you are smoking nearly a gram in one go. (Although I very much doubt there is 8 euros worth of weed in the blunt) I advise saving half for later so you do not join the tourist zombies looking confused with droopy eye lids at 10 am
Get your smoke on
Walk into any one of the Amsterdam coffee shops and ask for the menu, there is usually a few stuck to the counter. DO NOT take a picture of it! any kind of advertisement is banned and the owners will get mad if you start taking pictures of what they have to offer.
As a rule of thumb, the more expensive it is, the stronger it is. Prices vary from place to place so it is worth shopping around. Pre rolled blunts and joints with rolling mix can be brought if you just fancy a quick joint but don’t want your own bag. (Or you are still in the habit of hiding your weed at home) This is the most expensive way to get high but also the most convenient.
For the non-smokers, there is always a selection of space cakes available that are made fresh each day at most places.
Prices can be drastically different between shops and different strains are more expensive. Most places sell a minimum of 2 grams with 5 grams being the largest amount you can buy. I only found one shop that sells 1 gram bags. They do not have a smoking area but is the cheapest and where the locals go. I am not going to tell you the name of the shop due to the advertisement ban but I can tell you it’s near Amsterdam centraal.
What to order
If you have not tried cannabis since your college days, it is worth taking it easy as to not join the pack of zombie tourists roaming the city.
For the people that like to look after their lungs, space cakes are a great way to experience a gentle high. One cake won’t leave you wasted but you will feel a slight euphoric warmth wash over you.
Pre-rolled Blunts and joints are a more expensive way to get high but the most convenient. They can be bought like a beer.
Buy, sit and enjoy slowly while drinking a coffee and chatting to the customers and budmaids.
Buying 2 grams of your favourite bud is always a cheaper option, but beware as most coffee shops only like you smoking weed that you brought from them in their coffee shop.
The menu on the counter will usually have around 10 different strains of weed and 10 different strains of hash that range in price and strength.
Expect to pay around 4 euros for a pre-rolled joint with rolling mix and weed, 8 Euros for a pre-rolled blunt and around 20 Euros for 2 grams.
Psst, Don’t buy from street dealers
Written on the ground in speech bubbles around the red light district you will see this a lot. It is good advice. All drugs are banned in the Netherlands apart from cannabis and only then the coffee shops need to have a government licence.
You may bump into guys that say stuff like “Psst, you looking for me? are you looking for my friend Charlie?” They may whistle, or get your attention somehow then smile. Don’t bother.
It is known that the stuff they are trying to sell is so cut and over priced you probably will be paying for baking powder. There have been cases where Heroin has been sold as Cocaine with deadly consequences.
Don’t feel threatened by these dubious characters, A simple “No thanks” or “Not today my friend” will have them wish you a good day and move on.
How to have the best experience
Sitting outside any of the Amsterdam coffee shops, drinking coffee and chatting to travellers from all over the world is great fun.
One afternoon I was sat chatting to a lady that travelled for 29 hours for a space cake, an Israeli guy who came 15 years ago and never left, and a bunch of American students that were in a state of shock that they could smoke a joint in public.
Using the coffee shops as a place to chat with strangers and have a relaxing afternoon cake, is a perfect way to sensibly enjoy one of Amsterdams most famous traditions.
note: The author of this post does not condone or partake in the use of drugs.