A quick guide to everything you need to know about doing drugs in the Netherlands safely and responsibly. Covers the most common drugs: marijuana, ecstasy, and truffles (mushrooms).
Alex describes the Netherlands as a “magical drug wonderland”. Oh oh oh.
This is somewhat exaggerated—there are no magic gnomes, for instance—but drugs are everywhere in Dutch nightlife.
Many people come to Amsterdam for hedonistic purposes, and that’s totally fine! Get it in while you can: the municipality of Amsterdam doesn’t like its reputation as a Magical Drug Wonderland, and wants to instead attract richer tourists from Russia and China. (I think this is utterly foolish, but I’ll save that for a drunken rant later.)
If you do come to Amsterdam (or any other city, for that matter) for some guilty pleasures, here are some things to consider before doing drugs in the Netherlands.
A guide to drugs in the Netherlands
Soft drugs: Marijuana and hash
Marijuana, more commonly known as weed, is… sort of legal. The laws are strange in the Netherlands: weed is legal to possess and the coffeeshops are allowed to sell it, but they’re technically not allowed to buy it. Never you mind, though–you’re allowed to have up to 5 grams of weed or hash on you at once.
- You buy weed from “coffeeshops”. Anything sold outside of places labeled as such does not contain any marijuana. Ignore all of the cannabis cookies and candies the tacky souvenir stores are selling, they won’t do anything for you (aside from sucking your wallet dry and turn your tongue green).
- Don’t drink booze and smoke weed at the same time. This combination just doesn’t work. If you’re a novice smoker or drinker you will get ill. Stick to one or the other. If you must get twisty, try waiting an hour or two after your last drink to light up your joint.
- Don’t buy weed from the coffeeshops in tourist squares. They’re overpriced tourist traps. For the best weed in Amsterdam go to the Dampkring, De Tweede Kamer or the Greenhouse. The weed might be a bit more pricey, but you’ll get a real bang for your buck. Good coffeeshops in other major cities include Smokey (The Hague), Witte de With (Rotterdam), and Culture Boat (Utrecht).
- If you’re a novice smoker, don’t overdo it. Nothing is more embarrassing than passing out in a coffeeshop (we’ve seen this happen multiple times). Start out with a few puffs, and if you’re going to try edibles—”space cakes”—be conservative with your dosage. You can always eat more if nothing happens after two hours. We’ve personally seen some seriously crazy shit happen to friends that ate too much space cake.
- You’re allowed to smoke weed in most public places. Some public areas have designated parts where smoking weed is not allowed. If caught smoking and the cops tell you it’s not allowed, just apologize, play dumb, and ask where you can smoke. As long as you’re friendly there won’t be trouble, and cops will gladly help you find a place to smoke in peace.
- Smoking weed on terraces of bars is not allowed, despite how great of an idea it may seem.
Tip: If you’re going to go crazy in the Netherlands, be smart and get travel insurance before you go. You never know what might happen, and hospital trips are expensive in the Netherlands! We recommend and use World Nomads travel insurance.
Soft drugs: Truffles (magic mushrooms)
Magic mushrooms were legal in the Netherlands until 2008, when one tourist thought she could fly and threw herself into the canals. Luckily, there are loopholes! “Truffles” are still legal in the Netherlands. They’re considered to be different from mushrooms, despite the fact they’re simply stunted mushrooms—mushrooms that were forced to grow in on themselves.
- Truffles can be found at “smartshops”. Like with weed, anything sold outside of places labeled as such does not contain any mushrooms/truffles. Thrillist has a list of smartshops in Amsterdam you can seek out.
- Tell the workers at the smartshop what you’re looking for and how experienced you are, and they’ll help you pick the variety to suit your tripper needs. Some smartshops might even be able to hook you up with actual mushrooms if you’re subtle.
- Experienced trippers, realize these are wet, not dry. Many people that take mushrooms consume dry mushrooms, which weigh much less. Realize your knowledge of weights doesn’t apply here—these truffles are still fresh.
- Going to trip? Don’t do it in the city centers. There’s lots of nature where you can relax and enjoy your trip… and trams are fucking scary when you’re tripping balls. For all you R. Kelly fans out there, believe me, you can’t actually fly.
Hard drugs: Ecstasy, cocaine, GHB, etc.
- Ecstasy, coke, and GHB are illegal. However, you won’t be punished for drug use. You could, however, be punished for possession.
- Having a small amount for your own consumption (1-2 pills, 0.5 gram of coke, 5ml of GHB) on you is usually not a problem. If you are caught, it will be confiscated, and bouncers will kick you out of clubs if they see you taking anything.
- Don’t buy drugs from some random person on the street. During Amsterdam Dance Event a few years back, a major annual EDM festival/event, several people died after taking white heroin while thinking it was coke. Not a nice way to go. The picture below shows the signs the city erected afterward. Pretty civil, right?
- If buying ecstasy check Pill Reports to see if your press is safe. They have a very extensive and searchable database of ecstasy presses from all over the world.
- Start small. Dutch ecstasy is strong and often dosed at 200mg a pill. Taking half of a pill to start isn’t a terrible idea.
- Don’t hesitate to call emergency services at 112. You will not be prosecuted for drug use, and possession in small quantities won’t get you in trouble. Their main priority is to make sure that you or your friends are okay. Make sure to treat them nicely, and always be honest about what you or your friends have taken.
- The same goes for the police. Officials in the Netherlands are there to help you, not get you in trouble. Be open with them if you or a friend needs help.
- Don’t do heroin. Please.
What to do when you’re caught with drugs
As we’ve stated several times before, the possession of small quantities of drugs won’t be prosecuted. The police are not looking for users, they are looking for producers and large dealers. Below you can find a useful table, provided by the Dutch drug information provider Jellinek.
|Cannabis||max 5 gram|
|Cocaïne en speed||max 0,5 gram|
|Heroïne||max 0,5 gram|
|XTC||max 1 pill|
If you’re carrying 5 grams or less of cannabis, the police will never confiscate it. However, if you’re carrying harddrugs and the police catches you, they will confiscate it. Don’t argue if this happens, or you’ll risk getting a fine as well. If you cooporate, the police will just confiscate your drugs, and send you on your way with a warning. If you’re carrying more than the allowed amount, the police will consider it a commercial quanitity, and you’d better lawyer up.
There you have it: a quick overview of the most important things you need to know about drugs in the Netherlands. Have fun, but don’t forget to stay safe, too! If you have any more questions, feel free to contact us. (No, we can not actually get you drugs. Please stop asking.)
Don’t forget: Make sure you’re covered by travel insurance, so you can go on your merry way without worry. We recommend and use World Nomads travel insurance.
Looking to get into a bit of trouble in the Netherlands? Don’t miss King’s Day in Amsterdam, the greatest (and messiest) Dutch holiday!
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