Posted on: November 7, 2014
(This article was last updated on the 4th of January 2020)
Are you going to visit Amsterdam and are you planning to use drugs? Then this is a good read for you!
This piece contains useful tips for those who would like to experience soft and/or hard drugs in Amsterdam. There are a lot misunderstandings when it comes to drugs in the Netherlands. Before we get into that, we’d like to tell you how the Dutch think about soft drugs in general. Most Dutchmen don’t consider cannabis dangerous. And most of the Dutch do not have a problem with the coffeeshops (cannabis stores) or people who occasionally use soft drugs (weed or hash). Although it must be said that the use of alcohol is way more accepted in the Netherlands than cannabis.
Fun fact: Did you know that only 7% of the Dutch population uses cannabis?
|Usage by Dutch population||7,0%|
|Usage by Dutch youth||7,8%|
|Number of hospitalisations per year||98 (main diagnosis)|
|Number of selling points||673|
|Usage by Dutch population||78%|
|Usage by Dutch youth||43%|
|Number of hospitalisations per year||6.473 (main diagnosis)|
|Number of selling points||70.000|
Source: National Drug Monitor (Annual Report 2012, published November 5, 2013)
The Netherlands has a reputation for being a country that likes to do business and for having a liberal society; These are just a few reasons why we allow cannabis in our country. Tolerating soft drugs doesn’t mean that everyone uses it, in fact, most citizens of the Netherlands don’t even use cannabis.
During our tours in the Red Light District our local guides will tell you much more about drugs in the Netherlands. We’ll share all the things you didn’t know about this cannabis, ‘coffeeshops, legal magic truffels, smartshops and the Dutch drug laws. For example: Did you know that producing cannabis for commercial purposes in the Netherlands is totally illegal? Here, there is a so called “gedoogbeleid”. Here more about this during our walking tours in the Red Light District.
Did you know that the revenue of the illegal and legal drug industry in the Netherlands is included into the Dutch Gross Domestic Product (GDP)? This might sound weird, but it’s true! Since 25 June 2014, the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics includes the trade of illegal activities in the Dutch GDP. A few examples of these illegale activities: XTC, cocaine, heroin, smuggling, etc. The trade in these illegal activities are estimated by the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics and based on police sources.
The graph below shows the trade in legal and illegal activities. According to the Bureau of Statistics the trade in cannabis is 1.04 billion euro.
The GDP of the Netherlands in 2010 was 586.7 billion euros, but after including the trade of these substances the Dutch GDP increases with 44.7 billion euros. So the Netherlands has become 7.5 percent ‘richer’.
We believe that it would be best if most drugs (like XTC) would be legalised. It seems that we are far away from having that, so therefore we are providing you with 10 tips on how to use drugs in Amsterdam. First thing first: a “cafe” means “pub” throughout the Netherlands; a “coffeeshop” is where one buys cannabis. While marijuana is not technically legal in the Netherlands, the possession and purchase of small amounts (<5 gram) of “soft drugs”(ie marijuana, hashish, space cakes and mushroom-based truffles) is allowed/tolerated and users won’t be prosecuted for smoking or carrying this amount. This means that coffeeshops are actually conducting an illegal business – but this is tolerated to a certain extent.
The Dutch government has let individual municipalities decide for themselves whether to enforce the national weed pass. Therefor there are almost no municipalities which have implemented this pass.
Even though Amsterdam might be the global center for hash and weed usage, inside the city borders hardly any large plantations have been busted. So where does the hash and weed sold in Amsterdam come from? For hash, the separated resin of a cannabis plant, the sources are evident. Large shipments often in the 1000’s of kilo’s come predominately from Morocco. Hash is also produced in Afghanistan and Lebanon. There are also many idealists who grow because of their conviction or love of the product, preferably biological and without insecticides. Yet these idealists on their own produce far too little to satisfy Amsterdam’s huge weed demand.
To supply all those weed smoking people in Amsterdam and the legions of tourists, coffeeshops have to rely on a wide network of suppliers. The police of Amsterdam clear away roughly one ‘wiethok’ (small indoor plantation) a day containing between 150 and 700 cannabis plants. Amsterdam is too densely populated to start up a large indoor plantation without being noticed.
It’s almost impossible to make a general fact-based statement about weed production in the Netherlands. Estimates range between 29 and 130 tons of weed production per year. Every year around 5000 to 6000 illegal weed plantations are busted by the Dutch police. 1 billion kilowatt-hour of energy gets stolen every year in the Netherlands, almost exclusively for illegal weed plantations. On this supply if energy supply a total of 30.000 plantations can operate 24/7. This is about same amount of energy that is needed for the whole city of The Hague. An average Dutch household uses approximately 3.000 kilowatt-hour of energy.
Coffeeshop Grey Area is known as one of the best coffeeshops in Amsterdam.
According to experts, Amsterdam coffeeshop owners are not eager to buy from sellers that come out of the south of Holland (Brabant, Limburg). They don’t trust the growers and dealers from the south. The weed has often been of dubious quality. There’s hardly any weed traffic between the southern provinces and the coffeeshops in Amsterdam. The owners of the coffeeshops usually don’t want anything to do with the (often violent) weed crime scene from the south. The market over there is divided between motorcycle gangs, Turkish criminal organisations and groups that can maybe best be described as the Dutch versions of pikeys.
So, what about hard drugs? Drugs like XTC, cocaine, MDMA, speed and LSD (which are all illegal in the Netherlands by the way). We assume that those who’d like to use hard drugs in Amsterdam, have already experienced some drugs before. Most of the drug incidents in Amsterdam happen to those who know too little about using drugs and often it’s the hard drugs that causes damage to those people. Information is king with this subject!
Smart shops – which offer organic uppers and natural hallucinogens – have long been known for selling magic mushrooms. But in the year 2000, the Dutch government banned them. Nearly 200 varieties of fungus then went on the forbidden substances list – though conspicuously missing was the magic truffle.
Fun Fact: A smart shop is a place where you can purchase magic mushrooms (a.k.a. “magic truffles”). Staff will advise you on the nuances of dosages and possible effects. Listen to them – their advice will help you with a good and safe trip.
Magic truffles are legal in Amsterdam and in the rest of Holland. In smart shops they are named “magic truffles”. Scientifically speaking truffles are not mushrooms and therefor they do not fall within the reach of the Opium Act. Magic truffles are allowed to be produced, purchased, sold and consumed in the Netherlands. In most English speaking countries magic truffles are called magic mushrooms.
Although magic truffels are legal, they are definitely not popular among the Dutch. The magic truffels are mostly being sold to tourists.
Drugs are not bad per se, you just gotta be informed on how to take them. The staff in (cannabis) coffeeshops and smart shops are more than willing to inform you (on how to use drugs in Amsterdam). You could also go to Wikipedia to get more information on these drugs or just ask our local guides!
Dutch Speed Facts & Tips From Jellinek
This is a smart shop in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. It sells magic mushrooms/truffles.
There are many (fake) street dealers in Amsterdam’s city centre. You’ll find them on Leidse Square, Rembrandt Square, Waterloo Square and in the Red Light District. If they see that you’re not interested in cocaine or XTC, they will ignore you. They usually stand on the Warmoesstraat, Stoofsteeg, Lange Niezel & Oudezijds Achterburgwal in Amsterdam. These street dealers usually sell fake stuff and can get aggressive. Do not buy it. Seriously, you’ll get ripped off!
In a period of 15 months a total of 1208 street dealers were arrested for the selling of fake drugs in Amsterdam. All together they were responsible for 4857 incidents, 3051 of which were related to the sale of fake drugs. That’s 62%. Most of the victims are men between the age of 20 and 40 from Germany and Great Britain. These tourists come to Amsterdam for the weekend and a pill or something to sniff are part of the Amsterdam experience for them. But all too often they don’t get what they bargained for. The XTC pill turns out to be an aspirin or a contraceptive pill, the gram of cocaine: baking powder.
The municipality of Amsterdam, police and public prosecutor want to put a stop to the nuisance of fake drug dealers but that may be hard to do. Stronger punishments raise legal objections. Current Dutch drug laws do not apply to the sale of fake drugs and the public prosecutor believes that a separate law to fight fake drugs isn’t feasible. Fake drug dealers can only be punished with fines totalling a couple 100 euros. The worst cases can get a maximum sentence of 6 weeks.
|Knew in advance that they were going to use softdrugs, like cannabis.||54%|
|Knew in advance that they were going to use just harddrugs.||1%|
|Knew in advance that they were going to use soft- and harddrugs.||15%|
|Decided in Amsterdam that they were going to use drugs.||30%|
We spotted this sign on the window of a store in the Red Light District.
TIP: DO NOT buy drugs on the streets from dealers. They sell rubbish and can get very aggressive!
If you’re really keen on buying XTC, cocaine, MDMA or any other illegal drug, we’d advice you to buy it in a club from someone who’s really having a blast. Usually it’s not that difficult to spot someone who has a bit more fun and energy than the rest of the crowd. Ask that person what he’s or she’s having and if there is anything for sale.
Don’t be stupid, don’t buy it on the street from dealers! Especially not on Leidse Square, the red light district, Museum Square or around Rembrandt Square – in other words: the areas with the most tourists. These street dealers sell fake stuff or even worse: White heroin as cocaine. This happened in the end of 2014; a few tourists bought fake cocaine from a street dealer and passed away because it was actually white heroine.
It would be great for people to have the opportunity to get their drugs tested in every bar, club or festival. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in Amsterdam yet. Hopefully the Dutch government will allow this in the near future. As we all know, drugs are being used in pretty much every club in the world. Lot of locals are using the services of that drug test lab. Or they go online to search for a drug report.
In Amsterdam, there are several places where you actually can get your hard drugs tested legally. Although XTC, MDMA, cocaine are illegal in the Netherlands, they are all still very popular here. There are many ways to get it tested in a way that is totally legal in the Netherlands. This is what most locals do before using it.
We interviewed August de Loor who was the founder of Amsterdam’s Drug Consultancy Bureau. We wanted to know more about those legal drug tests in Amsterdam because it’s a good way to reduce risks among drug users. CLICK HERE to read the exclusive interview and to get some tips from the expert.
Learn everything about legal and illegal drugs in the Netherlands by joining our Amsterdam Drugs Tour. Get informed on Holland’s liberal drugs policy, the history of drugs, its effects, statistics and much more. Within 1.5 hours you’ll have a good understanding of the Dutch drug system.BOOK THIS TOUR >