In Amsterdam, a "coffeeshop" isn't what you think it is. Yes they sell coffee, but the main product is cannabis. The coffeeshops in Holland were the first places in the world where buying cannabis was tolerated.
Here are some Amsterdam's coffeeshop etiquette tips so that you can look like a local.
1) COFFEESHOPS VS CAFES / KOFFIEHUIZEN
In Holland, a shop with a license to sell cannabis products is called a “coffeeshop”. We have 164 in Amsterdam today. Just look out for their green and white license stickers! Our coffeeshops sell cannabis products, soft drinks, tea and coffee, but alcohol is no bueno. Some of them even make a mean burger. “Cafés” or “koffiehuizen” (coffee houses) are establishments which offer beverages and food, but no cannabis or special cakes. So voila, confused no more!
2) FLASH YOUR ID. +18 ONLY
If you're planning to celebrate your 17th birthday with a celebratory blow at a coffeeshop, forget about it. Legal age is 18. And they mean it. Always bring your ID with you.
3) LOSE THE SUNNIES AND BEANIE
Leave your Ray-Bans and headpiece at home because you ain't allowed inside an Amsterdam coffeeshop looking like Ali G. One word: Security. Coffee shops need to protect themselves from robberies and such. Staff will ask you to kindly remove your hat and sunglasses before entering. So arrive au naturel and enjoy!
4) CHECK THE MENU AND ASK FOR ADVICE
Every coffeeshop has a menu. You won’t find them online though, because it's forbidden by Dutch law to advertise the C word (cannabis). A menu gives you an overview of all the cannabis products the coffeeshop has to offer, typically categorized under weed, hash, space cakes (cake with marijuana butter) and pre-rolled joints. We recommend sharing your smoking experience with the staff before you purchase. Tell them how you want to feel (high or stoned, how strong). Based on that, they can recommend the right product for you. Take advantage of their knowledge. They're experienced with all kinds of levels and smokers - from weed virgins to veterans. They can help you to get the experience which is safe and suited to your needs.
4) BRING CASH
Most of our coffeeshops only accept good ol' cash. Some take Maestro cards and PIN bank cards. The acceptance of credit cards like Mastercard, Visa and American Express is rare and almost non-existent.
5) NO MORE THAN 5 GRAMS
By Dutch law, a coffeeshop is not allowed to sell you more than 5 grams of cannabis products. You can hang out at a coffeeshop all day, but you can’t buy unlimited cannabis products from one place. You can also purchase your weed from one coffeeshop and smoke it at another. Just remember to buy a drink or a snack at the coffeeshop where you choose to smoke it.
6) TO-BACCO OR NOT TO-BACCO
Smoking tobacco indoors in Amsterdam was banned in 2008. This is also the reason why some of our coffeeshops won’t allow you to smoke tobacco in your rolled joints. However, most of our coffeeshops still tolerate it. Best thing to do is to ask the staff if you can smoke tobacco indoors.
7) SMOKE INDOORS, PREFERABLY
The cool thing about our coffeeshops is that they have smoking areas where you can enjoy your cannabis products. Lots of coffeeshops have very nice and cozy smoking areas. However, smoking outdoors is tolerated. Coffeeshops like Boerejongens advise never to smoke at playgrounds, near schoolyards, or at places where children or minors hang. Look for a nice quiet spot where you can’t disturb Amsterdammers or other travellers.
8) ASK BEFORE TAKING PICTURES
Coffeeshops are walking the line of legality. Because it's only tolerated, there's some sort of stigma that comes with being associated with one sometimes. So before you snap photos, ask the staff for permission.
9) NO HARD DRUGS AND IGNORE STREET DEALERS
The whole idea of tolerating coffeeshops in Holland is to separate the soft drugs from the hard drugs market, and to provide people with a “safe place” where they can buy their cannabis instead of scoring it from a street dealer. So my friend, if you buy weed, do it at a coffeeshop and not from a stranger who might offer it to you on the street.
10) HYDRATE AND TAKE CARE OF YOUR MUNCHIES
When smoking weed, it's crucial to stay hydrated. Make sure to drink your water! When you consume weed, it causes your blood sugar to drop. So if you feel dizzy, don't panic. Take something sweet, down a can of Coca Cola. You. Are. Going. To. Be. Okay. :) When the Munchies kick in, treat yourself to something sweet, salty and delicious. Best thing yet? Just let us feed you and join us for a Munchies Food Tour! The world's #1 food tour that takes your taste buds to a higher level! Hit up Amsterdam's favourite foodie hotspots and eat it all! Limited spots - book below!