Amsterdam Coffeeshops FAQ – Everything you need to know and more

by Roger

by Roger | February 1st, 2008  

The general Amsterdam coffeeshops scene is covered on another page, but this FAQ should be useful to those considering they first “trip” to Amsterdam, or perhaps their first trip here in a while. Many people are intrigued when they first hear that the city has around 150 coffee shops, which operate for the sole purpose of selling marijuana and hashish, and letting people smoke it right there.

The first time you go the whole process can be a bit mysterious and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. The following topics should answer nearly every question you have about the legendary Amsterdam coffee shops, but if you are still wondering about something please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and we’ll try to answer it and then possibly add it to this section.

Click on the blue page title for answers to the questions immediately below it.

And for a look at what to expect in Amsterdam’s coffeeshops, here’s a video that includes a brief tour of a few of them:

The basics

  • Is cannabis legal in the Netherlands?
  • So marijuana and hash are different things?
  • What is an Amsterdam coffeeshop?
  • Is it easy to confuse a “coffeeshop” with a non-weed coffee shop of café?

Buying marijuana or hash in a coffeeshop

  • How do I go about buying marijuana or hashish once inside?
  • How much does the weed and hash cost?
  • Can I buy in bulk, and save money doing so?
  • What else do coffeeshops sell?

Iceolator hash – Is it really that strong?

  • What is this new Ice-o-lator hash, and is it really as strong as they say?
  • Is all Ice-o-lator hash the same?
  • How much does Ice-o-lator cost and where can I get it?
  • How do I smoke Ice-o-lator hash

Where you can smoke and where you can’t

  • Can I buy weed one place and smoke it in another coffeeshop?
  • Can I smoke weed elsewhere in Amsterdam?

The 2008 no-smoking laws

  • What about Amsterdam’s new no-smoking law?
  • Will the no-smoking law close the coffeeshops themselves?

Other recreational drugs?

  • What about other recreational drugs like mushrooms, cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy?

Choosing a coffeeshop, and overdoing it

  • Which is the best coffeeshop?
  • Which coffeeshop sells the strongest weed?
  • Do people ever overdose on weed in the shops?

Joints in Amsterdam

  • Do most people smoke joints in coffeeshops?
  • Why are these styles so different?
  • Is the smoking experience the same with both types of joints?
  • I’m terrible at rolling joints, can I get help?
  • Where do I find rolling papers?

Bongs, pipes, and vaporizers

  • Any chance of finding a bong or water pipe to use?
  • What about small and simple portable pipes?
  • What about vaporizers?

Edible marijuana, space cakes, pot brownies

  • What about eating it, like in pot brownies?
  • Can you taste the weed or hash in space cakes?
  • Is the high from space cakes the same as from smoking?

Dangers of space cakes

  • So there must be hazards involved with eating space cakes, right?
  • What is an overdose of space cakes like?
  • How can I avoid eating too much?
  • Can I drink alcohol while on a space cake?

Finding and buying space cakes

  • So how do I know how strong each item is?
  • How much do they cost?
  • Do all coffeeshops sell space cakes?
  • Where is the best place to get them?

Now that you know you are definitely coming:

>>Look for cheap airfare to Amsterdam
>>Look for cheap Amsterdam hotels
>>Find a hostel in Amsterdam

Return to the Why Go Amsterdam home page to see the latest Amsterdam articles. Photo by: flo21


{ 39 comments }

monica March 6, 2008 at 10:57 pm
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hello. i want to start off by saying thanking you for this helpful site. now i know you basically answered this question but i still just can’t quite understand this. i am moving to amsterdam next year yet i have never been there before. i will be attending the universiteit van amsterdam and well i want to know a little more information about smoking marijuana on the streets. i won’t be able to walk down the street smoking a little joint? i mean i plan on walking around alot and seeing everything i want to be able to smoke my marijuana cigarette as well as a regular cigarette on the street sides as wel as riding my bike. locals will be offended by my marijuana street smoking cigarette? i just can’t imagine that they would mind. i wanted to know if maybe you can clarify and give me some more examples.. i mean i don’t want to offend the locals. even though i will technically be a local.. hahaha thank you so much. – monica

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Roger March 6, 2008 at 11:20 pm
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Monica,

You could smoke a joint while walking down the street, but you’d be pretty much alone in doing so. You might be spoken to by a cop, but you won’t be arrested and your stash wouldn’t be taken either. In the parks it’s a bit more common, but most people just don’t smoke much on the street.

I lived for a while right near the university and there are a couple coffeeshops right in that neighborhood, but I didn’t see many students hanging out in them too often. Most people buy and leave at those non-touristy shops.

You’ll find places better than while walking down the street, and I’m sure you’ll have a great time.

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Jesse April 30, 2008 at 11:55 am
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Hello,
first off I would like to say that you have a realy nice set up here…I am a self proclamed pro at the stuff and i still learned a thing or two…My question is that why is it here in North America the average price for 1.5 grams of moderately potent marijuana is only 5 dollers and over their it is so much more? Also do the coffie shops sell in large amounts? Such as maby haffies or ounces or more? And if so could you tell me the average prices of a perchase like that in American dollers?

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Roger April 30, 2008 at 3:26 pm
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Jesse,

Thanks for the questions. I’ll probably add some of this to the main FAQ itself soon, but for now here are the answers:

The law in Amsterdam only allows a shop to sell up to 5 grams of cannabis to one person in one day, and these places are really strict about this. 5 grams is about 1/6th of an ounce, and any bulk sales beyond this are forbidden.

You can buy 5 grams at once, but sadly most places will just charge you 5X the one-gram price. Quite a few places have 2 or 2.5 gram bags on their menus, but in almost every case the bulk discount is almost nothing. Like a place will sell a gram of something for €8 and 2 grams for €15, so it’s hardly worth it. So an eighth of an ounce would cost around US$45 and up at today’s terrible exchange rates. Due to lower prices in Amsterdam and a stronger USD, it was only about half that expensive just a few years ago.

Most visitors to Amsterdam are only in town for 2 or 3 days, so most people prefer to buy one gram at a time and try different strains, so this one-gram thing works well for most people.

If you are buying weed for $5 for 1.5 grams in the US I’d like to know where. I’ve heard of roadside Kentucky weed that’s cheap and not strong at all, but never anything worth smoking in that price range. It sounds like you’ve got a good set-up there.

The weed in Amsterdam usually ranges from moderate to insanely strong, with more expensive strains (obviously) going for higher prices.

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Marc August 11, 2008 at 2:40 pm
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Hi,
I was wondering if there are any minimum age requirements for entering the coffeshops/buying weed. If it is eighteen, how strictly is it enforced?
Thanks

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Roger August 11, 2008 at 3:09 pm
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Marc,

Yep, it’s 18+ to buy weed, and I don’t know exactly how strictly that’s enforced, but I’ve definitely seen them card quite a few younger people, so I’m guessing they take that pretty seriously. Generally speaking, there are some people who are looking for reasons to shut down some coffeeshops, so I’d imagine that this sort of violation would be too risky for them if they got caught. Good luck though.

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Gary September 5, 2008 at 2:59 am
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A simple question.
I am going to Amsterdam in the new year.
I have angina, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Could I take a mild space cake or could it have adverse effects?
Thanks

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Roger September 5, 2008 at 5:30 am
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Gary, not sure if this is a serious question or not, but I wouldn’t be a good person to answer it either way. Space cakes probably aren’t ideal for people with health problems since they might make you worry about the consequences enough to take most of the fun out of it anyway. Once eaten the effect goes on for many hours and if it ends up being really strong it might be hard to relax if you are worried about it getting even stronger. Good luck though.

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cannabistoker420 September 9, 2008 at 1:05 pm
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hello,

I am not a very experianced smoker and i’m in tucson arizona. the weed here is about $1 a gram and it’s prettty good stuff. i really like your site and i will be visiting it quite often:) peace!

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Macedon October 1, 2008 at 5:42 pm
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hey dude…there is very expencive…here 1 kg of 1st class marihuana…is 240euros…in usd would me 350-360usd…anyway…leave the grass alone…thats for the sheeps ;) )

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manuel October 21, 2008 at 11:12 am
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Hi, i already read your answer to a similar question to mine, but me and three friends are going to amsterdam in 3 months, we are all 17 now, but three of us will have turned 18 by the time we go, however the youngest of us will still be 17, but he looks older than us, do you think that if the rest of us have our identity cards, will they let him buy weed? and if not, do you think they will let him smoke anyway, from our stuff?if not, do you have any other advice?

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Roger October 22, 2008 at 12:28 am
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Manuel,

I’ve been to dozens of coffeeshops in the last few days, and they seem to be pretty strict about asking for ID from younger customers. They have so few rules that they really seem to be strict on the ones they do have.

You will probably all be asked for ID just when you walk in. If one person doesn’t have ID, they’ll probably be asked to leave, just like bars in most of the world.

Of course there isn’t much risk in trying. No one is going to call the police or anything. The worst case scenario is you have to find a hotel that is smoke-friendly (there are far fewer of them these days) and then you could all smoke there.

Good luck, and I’ll add more if I think of anything else.

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Andre October 31, 2008 at 9:12 pm
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Hey,thanks for all the information you have given us, anyway, question to smoking in hostels/hotels can you recommend any good hostels/hotels that allow it,near the red light district?
If not I was planning on going to The Flying Pig Downtown Hostel anyway and just eat a space cake instead,I enjoy getting high by myself while lying down on my bed, in my own privacy, thank you.

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Roger November 7, 2008 at 1:00 pm
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Andre, I hear you on that request. The smoking in hotels situation is kind of tricky now, because smoking is officially banned in all public indoor areas, and I think most hotels have gone “no-smoking” in the rooms.

One I would look into is the Greenhouse Effect Hotel. They are also a bar and coffeeshop, and they allow smoking of weed and tobacco throughout. They have a great location, but aren’t super cheap. I’ll look more into this.

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Tony November 28, 2008 at 12:48 am
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Hi, Me and some friends plan on visting Amsterdam in the new year. Where would be a good location to stay if we what to vist the weed shops go to some good restarunts and etc. and are the shops only in the red light district?

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Roger November 30, 2008 at 12:19 pm
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Tony, for a crash course, check out my Choosing where to stay in Amsterdam post.

There are coffeeshops in pretty much all the neighborhoods, but they are most densely packed in the Red Light District. I’m very fond of the Winston/St. Christopher’s hotel/hostel on Warmoesstraat in the Red Light District. It’s close to everything, but not on a seedy street. There are plenty of other good hotels on that street and on ones nearby.

You might also consider one of the many hotels on Haarlemmerstraat, which is very close to Centraal Station and has a bunch of good coffeeshops all close together. It’s not as wild as the RLD, if that’s what you are after.

Honestly, you can stay just about anywhere in the city center and you’ll be happy. Even the places down by Vondelpark are close enough to the entertainment districts and coffeeshops that you’ll be fine. Just avoid staying farther out than that. There are a few cheap hotels a mile or two past Vondelpark, and they just aren’t close enough to the center to be worthwhile.

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Tom December 9, 2008 at 9:44 am
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do the coffee shops accept drives licence, im 18 but i dont want to bring out my passport and risk losing it. ?

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Roger December 9, 2008 at 9:55 am
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Tom, I think you’ll be okay with just a driver’s license, as long as it has a photo that resembles you. I’d say it’s remotely possible that some shop might insist on a passport, but if that happens just go to the next one.

But just in general, it’s a good idea to travel with your passport. Amsterdam is not a city where you’d have to worry about it being stolen, so keeping it with you is probably wise.

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Phoebe December 13, 2008 at 5:53 pm
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Hi Tom

Thanks for the info cleared up a lot of stuff for me.

I was wondering what you put in a joint? can you put hash in it? and how? (very confused…not experienced if you can tell)

also, are most pre-rolled joints sold in coffee shops pure? will the mixed ones get you high just as well?

Thanks

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Roger December 14, 2008 at 11:02 am
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Phoebe,

Nearly all Europeans mix tobacco into their joints, with either hash or weed. Since the smoking ban has taken affect, the coffeeshops are now offering a special herbal mix that is meant to take the place of tobacco, but very few people use it.

So if you want to smoke hash, you have to mix it with either tobacco or this herbal stuff (which is available for free at most shops). You can also smoke a pure weed joint, of course, which is what most non-Europeans do.

The pre-rolled joints used to be most popular pre-mixed with tobacco, but now it’s easy to find pre-rolled pure weed joints. If you don’t find them at one shop, you’ll probably find them at the next one.

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Tom January 12, 2009 at 10:24 pm
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I was wondering if when going to amsterdam and being that i will be 17 and within 2 months of 18, if it would be a good or bad idea to get a fake ID. Just to cover me to 18+. I am travelling with friends over 18 and this is an important part of the trip so i want to figure something out. Is there a chance of them knowing the difference with a decent (not great) fake? and if so what are the consequences?

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Roger January 13, 2009 at 4:25 pm
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Tom, a fake ID might be worth a shot. I don’t know for sure, but my best guess is that it might get rejected at some places, and could work at others if you get lucky.

I’m quite sure most places will check it. They are pretty strict about the 18+ rule because the consequences of them being busted are severe.

I’d imagine that most (but hopefully not all) places will ask for a passport, since they know you had one for sure when you entered the country.

The good news is that Amsterdam is very mellow about things like this, so even if a place refused to accept is as legal ID, the chances of them doing anything more because they thought it might be fake are about 0.1%.

Don’t sweat getting caught, but the odds are against you in most places. You can always have someone in your group buy it and smoke elsewhere though.

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brb February 5, 2009 at 3:06 am
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I would like to buy some bigger qty in NL, would anybody give me some contact or any info

THX for help

my email is ast_mb@op.pl

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Roger February 5, 2009 at 5:33 pm
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BRB, I wish you luck, but this won’t be easy. The shops can only sell 5 grams per day to one person, and that’s one of the very few strict laws that is always enforced. Your best bet might be buying 5 grams at each shop, but, as I’ve said elsewhere, you’ll barely get any discount in those quantities.

Interestingly enough, the one part of this whole equation that continues to be illegal is the part where the shops buy in large quantities themselves. They have to buy with a bit of secrecy, so a newcomer finding a way to buy 100 grams at a time will be impossible, unless you have close friends in the business, which you obviously don’t.

Have a great trip anyway.

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Cole February 10, 2009 at 11:27 am
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hey guys… well i’m planning my own trip to amsterdam soon but what i find most bothering about most of the articles i have read like this one, is that they all refer to 5 grams as being “alot”. ive been smoking weed for around 3-4 years and i tend to roll blunts rather then joints. a blunt is a cigar that is split open and the tobacco is removed then rolling it with pure marijuana. normally i roll about a gram to a blunt. while i do get high with only one blunt, it tends to only last about a few hours. so as you can see, 5 grams would be translated as 5 blunts, or 10 joints seeing as a healthy sized joint is about a .5 of a gram. 5 grams might last you and a friend a day if you smoke regularly, smoking only when you no longer feel high. and if in any case you roll a blunt in amsterdam, if you are not a heavy smoker, SHARE IT! I get extremely high if i face a blunt by myself. also… they might not sell “blunts” or cigars regularly as they do here. if you are wondering about what kinda of cigar i am talking about you can go to nearly every gas station in the United States and ask for a dutch-master cigar or a philly cigar and they will show you one. i guess the point i was trying to get across in my entry is that 5 grams may not be as much as you thought. but nevertheless, you can only have 5 grams at any given time according to their laws in amsterdam. so smoke on, and if it does run out, you just buy some more =). so make sure you have brought enough money to make atleast a few 5 gram purchases! have fun!

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Roger February 10, 2009 at 12:35 pm
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Cole, you make an interesting point, and I’ll be curious what you think after you spend some time in Amsterdam.

The weed and hash is WAY stronger than what you are probably smoking. I’m from Los Angeles, and when I spent time in Kentucky everyone was smoking stuff that grew off the side of the road, and you’d have to smoke for an hour straight and you’d still not get as high as with a bowl or two of the high-quality stuff.

And if the weed in Amsterdam doesn’t do it for you, try a spacecake. If you had two of those you’ll REALLY know what it’s like to be too high.

Enjoy, and keep us posted!

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Robert February 18, 2009 at 2:48 am
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I found your site very informative. Although, I do have a question. A friend of mine is going to Amsterdam in April and she wants to try smoking some higher grade marijuna. I told her to try to find some lower THC % grass first. I was told that some “Kush” has 7% or 8% THC and was a quality mellow smoke. Is this possible to find in Amsterdam?

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Roger February 18, 2009 at 7:59 pm
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Robert, I don’t see much weed around town that is actually called Kush, though I have heard of it. The good news is that your friend will have no problem getting lower THC grass at pretty much any shop (except Grey Area, perhaps).

The THC content of the strongest stuff is up in the 20 to 25% range, but most places also have stuff around 10%, exactly for this purpose. They tend to have different names at each place, so it’s hard to recommend one strain in particular.

Each coffeeshop has a “bartender” sort of person who sells the weed and hash, and I’ve always found these people to be extremely helpful. If anything, they’ll discourage people from buying the strong stuff unless they look like they can probably handle it.

Lower THC stuff is almost always cheaper than high THC stuff, and most places sell by the gram instead of a fixed euro amount, so just looking on the menu for the cheapest weed will guarantee that it’s pretty mellow. It’s all indoor-grown, seedless, and tasty as well, so it should be a pretty good experience, even for the cheaper stuff.

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Robert February 20, 2009 at 5:40 am
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Thats good to know. I didn’t want her down on the floor in fetal position in a corner somewhere suffering from extreme paranoia and thinking she was going to die. She just wants to have a good time and some new experiences. Thanks for the information.

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penny February 27, 2009 at 8:25 am
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plz do tell the safest method to bring a bit back to France and post back to US or take on plane.

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Roger February 28, 2009 at 7:07 pm
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Penny, That’s a really good question, and I’m going to add a whole new page to the general FAQ with a more complete answer, but here’s the short version.

Of course I’d never recommend that anyone break the law, but people do smuggle cannabis out of the Netherlands every day anyway, and some get caught.

If you take something with you on a train, you’ll probably be fine, but sometimes trains leaving the Netherlands have drug agents with search dogs on board, and they sweep the entire train while the train is going from one stop to another. You definitely don’t want to be unlucky enough to have that happen.

On flights from the Netherlands to the US you’ll often have luggage inspected by DEA agents with dogs before they allow you to leave with it, so this would be terrifying if it happened to someone bold enough to tempt fate. Similar things have been known to happen on flights within Europe, but not as often.

A friend of mine used to buy a greeting card in Amsterdam and flatten some of the strongest hash (not weed) he could find (Ice-o-lator) into it, and mail it to another friend’s house with a different name as the recipient. It always made it fine, but it’s still probably too risky for many people.

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Ry Ry March 3, 2009 at 8:38 pm
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Hey im 15 and smoked quite a bit and grown my own weed and i hope to take a trip to Amsterdam when im 18 and finished exams and stuff, do you think most coffeshops and laws will remain the same as they are now cos i cant wait to go and dont want to be dissapointed with strict new laws or even the coffeshops forced to close down aaaaaaa my head my explode ahaahaha

Cheers for info

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Roger March 3, 2009 at 8:47 pm
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Ry Ry, This is a pretty common question, especially with the recent tobacco smoking ban and whatnot.

I think it’s very likely that there will be fewer coffeeshops 3 years from now, but I’m fairly certain the coffeeshop culture will still be going strong.

The city government has said repeatedly that they don’t plan on closing down all the shops, even though they’ve limited some that were near schools and so forth.

The Dutch attitude is that by making and keeping this legal, it is much easier to control. They are very aware that if they close the coffeeshops they’ll just push the whole cannabis scene underground, and bring organized crime back into the game.

They also know that it’s a big reason to even visit in the first place for around 10% of their tourists, so they don’t want to give that up either. When you turn 18 and make it to Amsterdam yourself you’ll see how nicely it all works and how mellow it is.

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Copius March 8, 2009 at 9:00 pm
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Roger- I’ll be in Amsterdam for St. Pats and a couple days afer. I’ve been before but still have a few questions.

First: My last visit was days after the smoking ban and no one could really enforce the rules and the rules varied from shop to shop. I thoroughly enjoy a good spliff , now that things have settled a bit will I be allowed to smoke inside the shops as I have in the past?

Also if you could recommend a few top notch connoisseur shops that would be excellent as well, been to Grey area, Dapmprking, and a few others in the past

Cheers mate , very useful site

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Roger March 9, 2009 at 6:30 pm
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Copius, Good news. You’ll definitely be able to smoke spliffs inside most coffeeshops, though you’ll have to go into a special section in most of them. I wrote a post about some of the changes since the smoking ban, which may interest you:
http://www.amsterdamlogue.com/amsterdam-coffee-shops-the-smoking-ban-and-other-changes.html

Those glassed-in areas that most shops now have are way cooler than they sound. In most cases, the front section of the shop is smoke-free, and then you enter a door into the main area, and then tobacco is okay inside there.

As far as other shops to check out, the small Barneys chain (formerly Barney’s Breakfast Bar) has great stuff, and one of their locations allows smoking and drinking as well.

Abraxis is another great one to check out, as is the whole De Rokerij chain. Those places all combine really nice ambiance with high quality cannabis. Have fun!

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Lee March 13, 2009 at 9:55 am
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Hey Roger! Awesome FAQ you have up there, it has really been helpful.

I’m traveling to Amsterdam in June and was really hoping to get a hold of shrooms. Heard that they were banned but I’ve also been reading reports that they might lift it. Is it true?

Also is the high of “philosophers stones” the same as shrooms and are they still legal?

Thanks in advance! :D

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Me May 20, 2009 at 4:35 pm
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Thanks for the article – pretty much ties up with my personal experiences of Amsterdam plus a bit more I wasn’t aware of before reading this :) Personally, I’d give a plug to Amnesia (just round the corner from Grey Area) for a great “American Cafe” ambience & service – lovely apple pie, though the very nice “Magnolia” may have helped

Ta muchly,
an old & experienced chap who’s looking forward to some ice-o-lator next month…

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Tom June 14, 2009 at 2:11 pm
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hello,me and my friends want to go in about 5 years or so and i want to no how much 1kg of quality weed would be

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Roger June 14, 2009 at 2:41 pm
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Hey Tom, five years! I admire someone with a long-term plan like that. As mentioned in a few places around here, you can only buy 5 grams per shop per day, and they don’t really offer bulk discounts even in those quantities. They stay really strict about that rule (along with the rule about having to be at least 18 years old) so Amsterdam is not a good place to buy in bulk. It’s an admirable goal though, so keep dreaming big.

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