/ The Amsterdam Guide

Dutch Coffee Shops Sometimes Sell Coffee

Coffee shop can mean only one thing in the Netherlands: hash bar. You may think that buying and selling marihuana is legal in the Netherlands. It is not. Buying and selling is decriminalised. This means that possession of small quantities of drugs is not a crime under Dutch law.

Coffee shops are allowed to stock 500 grams of hash. Private persons are allowed to possess 5 grams. There are over 300 licensed coffee shops in Amsterdam recognisable by a numbered green-white sticker showing a marihuana leaf in the window.

Government researchers concluded that cannabis doesn’t have serious addictive qualities and is not more harmful than alcohol. By decriminalising soft drugs the Dutch Government can monitor usage of soft drugs better than when dealing is made illegal. If buying and selling disappears from the streets, it will get into the criminal circuit. Most countries and especially those neighbouring the Netherlands object to this policy. However, statistics show that the Netherlands has fewer drug addicts than other European countries.

Every person in the Netherlands is allowed to possess three weed plants for private consumption. Weed plantations are illegal. Most weed sold in coffee shops is smuggled in from Morocco and the Middle East.

Coffee shops are not allowed to advertise. Still it is still easy to find them. Just go to Warmoesstraat and surroundings where almost every other shop is a coffee shop.

If this is your first visit to a coffee shop, head for one that caters to tourists. Try The Grasshopper. If it was not for the pungent-sweet aroma, you might think you were in an ordinary café. No need to smoke a joint, just sit down, order coffee and observe. The cakes may look tantalising, but be aware they are space cakes with hash as their main ingredient.

If you want to indulge in in marihuana, ask for the menu at the bar. The menu shows several types of weed and prices, either per gram, or the amount of grams you get for a certain price. Expect to pay anything from €5 to €10 for one gram. If you are new to weed, you can also buy a pre-rolled joint.

If I hadn’t told you all this you would probably not have noticed the existence of the many coffee shops. There is no loitering in front of them (actually this is forbidden by law, and if clients do, the coffee shop’s license is taken away). There are no unsavoury types hanging about. There is no begging. Coffee shops are safe places. So, why don’t you take your mother or grandmother on a trip? I am sure she’ll enjoy it and she will have something to talk about when back home.

Grasshopper Coffeeshop

 The Grasshopper
Nieuwezijdsvoorburgwal 57
Two locations. Tourists often don’t realise that Grasshopper is a coffeeshop as it looks very much like a normal café. Touch-button menu and outside terrace.

Singel 12
Oudezijdsvoorburgwal 90 and 132 and 218
Famous coffee shops chain with attached souvenir shops.  Always full and very touristy, but safe for beginners. It’s like going to Bangkok and drinking coffee at Starbucks.

photo credits: personal collection

2 places are mentioned in this post!
Click on the place name to learn more

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