The Coffee Shops of Amsterdam

You know about the coffee shops, don’t you?

You don’t go there if you actually want coffee. For coffee you go to the cafe.

What you’ll find in the coffee shops is not caffeine.

In case you didn’t know, there are a few things that are legal in the Netherlands that are not legal in most other places. For example? Prostitution, marijuana, euthanasia and gay marriage.

Right on, Holland.

The thing is, it’s working.

Social order is well maintained, the drugs, euthanasia and prostitution are well regulated and safe. The gay marriage doesn’t need to be regulated because, DUH. Consenting adults can take care of themselves.

People are not marrying their farm animals, the whole population is not stoned out of it’s collective mind, families are not giving Grandma the ax just because she’s old, and the prostitutes are much less likely to die a violent death than they are in places where it’s illegal. Go figure.

Oh, sorry, I think I let my opinions show for a minute there!

Back to the coffee shops!

If a business in Amsterdam has a sign outside that says “Coffee Shop”, and there is a little green and white sticker in their window, then they are a legal vendor of marijuana. If you have any doubt while you’re visiting, just breathe. You can smell the smoke whenever you get anywhere near one.

Not that I know what the smoke smells like, Dad. I mean, mari-what? Never heard of it.

Now if, unlike me, you choose to  visit a Coffee Shop while in the Netherlands, there are some rules.



1 – You have to be 18
2 – 5 grams max per person
3 – They are not allowed to sell alcohol
4 – You can smoke your pot inside the store, but not your tobacco
5 – You can get a to-go baggie, but you can’t smoke out in a public place. Take it home, or to a friend’s house
6 – You can bring your own pot to smoke, but are expected to at least purchase a drink or snack as a courtesy. You know you’re going to be thirsty and want some snacks.
7 – The marijuana sold in these shops is quite strong. Unless you’re used to smoking quite a lot of it, don’t order the strongest type!
8 – Same goes for the “space cakes” or “magic brownies”. They can be very strong, so be careful. When in doubt, ask the employees
9 – No public disturbances, so keep your cool or you’ll be chucked out

It’s estimated that there are about 200 Coffee Shops in Amsterdam, and somewhere between 600 and 750 in all of the Netherlands. Of all of those, Brian and I visited exactly zero. We are boring old people and it’s been a very long time since I’ve tried it. I’m over it, been there, done that, moved on. Brian has tried it once in his life and was violently ill, so we figured it would be best to just skip that particular experience.

Would you try it? Would it be your first stop in the city? Do you think it’s a good idea, or the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it?

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About akil3655

A Scotsman and his American photographer wife traveling the world and writing about it. Tales, reviews, photos, interviews and crazy goings on. Because you never know what's going to happen.

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One Response to The Coffee Shops of Amsterdam

  1. Jennifer Souza September 26, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    Yeah, I’m over that time as well!