What's the legality of cannabis in The Netherlands?

I heard correctly or incorrectly that minuscule amounts are “tolerated”/police turn a blind eye to it however actual importation or an attempt to sell a marketable quantity is just as serious of an offense as in other European nations.

Is it also true that they passed a law penalizing shops that sold cannabis substances to foreigners. Do buyers need to show that they are Dutch citizens who are old enough to purchase the drugs.

What’s true and what’s fake?

I’m no expert on Dutch law so I’ll just post my experience:

I was just there in April. In the canal zone part of Amsterdam there are coffee shops all over that sell it, and the area just reeks of weed. So I’m fairly certain that it is tolerated by the authorities.

We didn’t go into any of them but I spoke with someone (from the U.S.) that did and they did not say anything about getting carded or anything. He was told that it is a big no-no to consume outside of the establishment in public.

One of the policemen I had a conversation with said the main prohibition is against harder drugs like heroin and cocaine. And when they detain someone for something the other big thing they are looking for is weapons.

I’m not entirely up to date about the specifics right now, but I’ll try to explain the general idea as far as I understand it.

Canabis is not legal, but it is officially tolerated which means it is policy for police not to do anything about use and/or possession of weed. Coffeeshops are allowed to sell a small amount for personal use and I believe they have a maximum they are allowed to have in their shop. You can either buy they weed, pre-rolled joints or maybe some space cake. In any case, these shops are not allowed to sell alcohol as well… although some places just have a bar and a separate room where they sell the weed.

The difficulty is growing weed, since this is not allowed. Anyone is allowed to have one or two plants for personal use, but no more. So we have a situation where you can use it, shops are allowed to sell it, but no one is allowed to grow it. Still, all coffeeshops have stuff to sell, so people are growing it somewhere. Often in attics, often by tapping electricity (high electricity use is a dead give away) and often in the south of the country. Some political parties want to do full legalization so this problem can be dealt with, but nothing has happened yet and it doesn’t seem to be a big priority.

Most Dutch people find using weed fairly normal and after trying it a few times, they either lose interest or they remain using at home. As far as I know, none of my friends in their thirties have any interets anymore… maybe on a special occasion.

The coffeeshops in Amsterdam and other large cities are typically overrun by foreigners (either expats, exchange students or tourists), while locals may get their stuff and only light up at home. I used to live down the street from a largish coffeeshop (and bar next door) and I would never hear any Dutch. Even the doorman would often address people in English (and this wasn’t even in Amsterdam).

As similar thing happens in small border towns where Germans, Belgian and French people would go to get their stuff. Few of the people in these towns care for using canabis, but they do get confronted with the nuisence of these “drug tourists”. That is where the idea of the special ID came from; mostly for these border towns. One mayor also had the idea of just putting these shops somewhere outside the town, so the tourists wouldn’t bug the residents… but then, of course, the authorities in Belgium and Germany objected to having this place especially for Germans and Belgians, just over the border. I’m not even sure what the current situation is exactly.

As you stated, hard drugs are still very much illegal. But even then the focus is more on preventing harm (to society or individuals), rather than penalizing users. Addicts can get needles, there are methadone programs for people trying to get off heroine, etc.

While XTC is also very much forbidden, most big dance festivals have a specific place where people can get their pills tested. I’m not sure what they test exactly, but I guess it is for traces of other chemicals or other indications that pills are not safe. When a specific pill is found that is dangerous, it will be communicated all over the place (even on the news), to make people aware of the danger.

I swear I read this thread as cannibals.

All of the legalization and decriminalization in various US States must be putting a big dent in Amsterdam tourism. In the 80s it was a big deal (among my friends anyway) to get to go there and spending a week going to hash bars. Now anyone can just go to Vegas or the West Coast.

Bit of further clarification:

Tolerating of soft drugs means an individual is allowed to have a maximum of 5 grams on them or a maximum of 5 plants. That’s the amount coffeeshops can sell customers. It’s also the amount they are allowed to have on the premises… so… that’s where turning a blind eye comes in. Obviously a business can’t function if they can only ever have enough of their product to sell to one person. Somehow, somewhere, plants are growing and more than 5 grams of cannabis gets into the coffeeshop. But nobody knows how this happens [cue mysterious music] :rolleyes:

Selling those soft drugs is still illegal, but they allow the coffeeshop owners to continue selling as long as they’re not too difficult about other things.

Hard drugs, such as MDMA, are also largely tolerated. If you are caught with an amount that is considered to be for personal use, you walk. When you can test at a dance party, they only test to see if your drugs contain the drug they were sold as - it could contain any number of contaminants. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht (AFAIK) you can also get your drugs completely tested; you get a full report of what & how much is in there. Some places it’s free, some places you pay a fee. If you come in with more than 2 grams of a substance they consider that to not be for personal use, so they might report you to the police. Obviously, if the police were at all interested in catching people with drugs they could sit outside those test locations, but they don’t. The test locations openly advertise what they do. This is also tolerated. Clubs have information on safe drug use and the onsite emergency workers know about drugs and never report drug use to authorities.

Several cities have now agreed to experiment with legality of soft drugs (not hard drugs), so hopefully the future will a bit more clear on cannabis and how it gets into the those coffeeshops. :dubious:

One of my nephews recently accepted a job offer near Denver. The only reason he relocated is the cannabis situation. I got a text from him the other day that he was at a dispensary. He asked my opinion on what he should buy. I told him to ask if they had Durban Poison, a sativa I really like. He texted me a picture of a very professional looking package containing a quarter ounce (7 grams) of DP, including the percentages for THC, THC-A, CBD, CBD-A, CBN, etc. It was reasonably priced.

We are planning a trip (by car) to visit my nephew.

It’s the same in California for the medical dispensaries. Full legal ones can technically open on January 1st but, from what I have been reading, very few places have gone through the full permitting process so I may need to renew my med card in March.

Hope you have fun :). Planning on going to Holland before or after Christmas for at least a day for this precise reason.

My brother lived in Germany for a few years. He used to text me from the train when he went on coffee shop visits, knowing I’d be drooling. :slight_smile:

Not really. Amsterdam is a huge tourist attraction, and was from long before the dopey coffee shops got going. 80% of tourists to Amsterdam come from other European countries; only about 10% come from the Americas, and Amsterdam has other attractions which will likely mean that most of them will still come. Most American visitors to Amsterdam are also visiting other European countries, so there are obviously other draws for them than cannabis.

Jules: Okay so, tell me again about the hash bars.

Vincent: Okay what do you want to know?

Jules: Well, hash is legal over there, right?

Vincent: Yeah, It’s legal but it ain’t hundred percent legal, I mean, you just can’t walk into a restaurant, roll a joint and start puffin’ away. They want you to smoke in your home or certain designated places.

Jules: And those are the hash bars?

Vincent: Yeah, It breaks down like this, okay, it’s legal to buy it, it’s legal to own it, and if you’re the proprietor of a hash bar, it’s legal to sell it. It’s legal to carry it, but…but that doesn’t matter, cause, get a load of this; all right, if you get stopped by a cop in Amsterdam, it’s illegal for them to search you. I mean that’s a right the cops in Amsterdam don’t have.

Jules: Oh, man, I’m goin’, that’s all there is to it. I’m fuckin’ goin’.

Vincent: I know, baby, you’d dig it the most.

(The preceding is NOT guaranteed to be 100% accurate.)

More accurately: it’s guaranteed 100% inaccurate :wink:

The police can search you (preventief fouilleren, in Dutch) in areas designated in advance. The centre of Amsterdam is such an area (at least I think it still is, it used to be anyway). They can also search you if they have reason to believe you have a weapon, outside those designated areas. They won’t search you to see if you have hash, because they have absolutely no interest in hash unless you are growing 500 plants in your pocket.

Rastafarian, I hope you’ll at least go and see the Anne Frank House. Amsterdam has much more to recommend it than cannabis. It’s not even the most interesting drug to go to Amsterdam for. The van Gogh Museum would be good to see high, if you must.

That leaves me wondering what is the most interesting drug to go to Amsterdam for.

A lot of museums are great to see high. Maybe not the Anne Frank one though.

I would love to make recommendations, but not sure I’m allowed.

:eek: No, Anne Frank sober, absolutely! During Museum Night you get one pass that let’s you see all museums. I’d have some recommendations for that, but again, it might be “instructions on how to”?

If everything goes at it seems to be going, recreational cannabis will be legal across Canada on July 1, 2018. Sales regimes will differ according to province; in Ontario it will be sold by the Cannabis Retail Corporation of Ontario, a branch of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. (Blog of news updates.) There’ve been a lot of reports on the news about federal and provincial finance ministers arguing over how they’re going to split the excise tax on pot, so it must be happening… :slight_smile:

I was trying to convince my friend with the farm that growing pot once it is legalized would be a good way to make some spare money, but finding the regulatory requirements is …difficult. Which is why some colleges are now offering courses in growing the stuff.

For what it’s worth, today I read that the number of tourists is up 5% this year. In addition Amsterdam is apparently among the the cities that suffer the most from tourism (the two worst are Dubrovnik and Venice). As an example, recently there were a bunch of tv shows on the current situation in the red light district and pretty much everyone involved complains about what the place has become with all the tourists nowadays.

On a personal note, I think Amsterdam could use a drop in tourism (especially the kind that comes to “party”).