What is it like to observe Amsterdam and the Drugs?

Updated on 29 January 2023 –

Post Covid Travel Update – Netherlands have no Covid-19-related restrictions or requirements for travellers entering the Netherlands, including those from countries outside the EU/Schengen Area. Except for China. But the tourist visa process may take longer than before as the Netherlands also receives lakhs of work visa applications. Plan well advance and check their official website for the latest Covid updates.

Before you rant on us promoting drug use – Nope! In no manner we encourage the consumption of illegal drugs. It is dangerous to Physical and Mental health. This post is about two curious tourists who wanted to know what happened in Amsterdam’s De Wallen streets.

While talking to your friends about your Amsterdam trip, you may brag about how nice it was to cycle around and how lively Dam square was. Very few may ask about the Van Gogh museum, while others ask about cosmetics you bought there. Most people who know about Amsterdam are sure to ask you, “Maga (dude), did you eat space cake? Did you float? How was the Red district? Did you touch Marijuana” Whether the Netherlands government likes to be identified by the Magic Mushrooms or not, we tourists associate Amsterdam with it.

How can a nation sell cannabis so openly in public?

This was the first-ever question we asked our buddy Keerthi when he shifted to Amsterdam from India in 2015. On our trip to the Netherlands, we were more curious to explore the Red Light district, where sex and drugs are legal than the countryside or the artsy side of this nation.

Here is what our buddy Keerthi who has been living in Amsterdam since 2015, says about Amsterdam and the drugs-

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Am I too old to check out the scenes in De Wallen street, and is it safe?

 If you aren’t sure how to find this guilty pleasure and are a bit scared to try “what and when”, you can always go for Ganja Walking tours with a local guy who explains everything. Any curious person who doesn’t want to get high still wants to know about the intoxicating floating world through these walking tours. Any adult with no kids is always here, curiously strolling and checking out the vibe. So except for kids, these walking tours are open to every gender and age group.

In the morning and evening, De Wallen streets are one of the finest streets for Jogging early in the morning. But as the day goes by, the Coffee shops open up. By night, all the shops seMarijuanaijuana and sex open and get filled with people. It is better to be with a small group than solo post 9PM.

Why does the Dutch Government allow Drugs?

holldand parliament building in amsterdam by the canal side

Dutch drug policy is based on the idea that every human being may decide about their health matters. They consider this the most fundamental way to help terminally ill patients who can’t be cured and regulate suicide. Therefore, the Dutch see drugs as a health matter, similar to tobacco and alcohol use. When people use it with certain limits, it is good for their health.

Another Dutch thought is – Just by banning or trying to hide a negative social phenomenon, it doesn’t disappear. Rather, it is difficult to find the root cause and catch the actual illegal drug dealers, unauthorised suppliers and traders. This is because the one who sells it is a criminal, not the one who consumes it. The moment you ban certain things, the human tendency to get over adventurous with exploring something is banned. So keeping it open under certain limits, the Dutch government believes in preventing illegal drug-related issues.

Is drug use under control in the Netherlands?

Criminals and twisted minds always try to find a loophole to take advantage of any law made. So make certain consumption amounts of cannabis legal, as illegal drug trafficking still haunts the nation. So the Dutch government believes in educating people. Several programs by institutions help addicts and drug-abused people to overcome it.

Amsterdam and the drug laws

The Dutch have divided drugs into two categories, depending on their influence on human health – soft and hard drugs. Hard drugs such as cocaine, LSD, heroin and a few more. These Hard drugs are banned in the Netherlands and most other countries worldwide.

Soft drugs such as cannabis in all its forms (weed, hashish, hash oil) and hallucinogenic mushrooms (so-called magic mushrooms) are legal under the condition of “personal use”.

Though most magic mushrooms were banned here in 2008 after an underaged girl died, some shops continue to sell the so-called safer or consumable mushrooms in the area. So many Dutches suggest avoiding magic mushrooms that have caused fatalities already.

Things to keep in mind while getting the high here

tourists in front of hash shop at amsterdam

Before you decide to get high on drugs in De Wallen streets, you must know “what, when and how much is good for you and legal”. 

Cafes and coffee shops are different. Coffee shops are where you get cannabis.

Can tourists buy drugs in Amsterdam?

You should be 18 years old or above and can buy a maximum of 5gm per transaction. You can buy only the soft drugs that the government legalises.

Though magic mushrooms are banned, smart shops in Amsterdam still sell them. They sell herbs to relax, energisers, and vaporisers.

As a first-timer in Amsterdam, ask the workers at smart shops or take your buddy who knows these well if you don’t know what suits you and what is what. Clearly tell them how inexperienced you are, whether you are a regular smoker/non-smoker/ alcoholic.

They are professionals – so they will help you choose the right one based on your skill level. They even suggest you sit back in the shop for a while. Usually, they ask you not to drink and smoke weed together. It is as bad as mixing two alcoholic drinks. 

Can tourists take home drugs based food items from Amsterdam as souvenirs?

No matter what these coffee shops say and sell, you can’t take Amsterdam cannabis / Marijuana out of the Netherlands. You may call it a brownie baked with cannabis; you will get caught at airports. Crossing Netherlands’ borders to another country by land with these space cakes and brownies is prohibited and punishable. Let us say you are over-smart and influenced by the crazy Netflix series of drugs trying to carry stuff as souvenirs- you are in deep sh*t if you get caught.

Are tourists allowed to smoke weed everywhere in Amsterdam?

Smoking weed in public is tolerated in most places. However, some public areas have designated parts where smoking weed is not allowed. You will likely get caught by the police if you do so, and you will be fined. You may think of pleading or bribing the police to get rid of the hefty fine. It is better to prevent this situation than solve it once it happens.

Things a tourist must know while trying drugs in Amsterdam

When you go to a regular cafe or restaurant with your weed, ask if you can smoke on their balconies or terrace. Or, look for a signboard that says “Smoking weed is allowed/prohibited” inside the restaurant. Most restaurants don’t allow you to smoke weed.

I am not a pro to suggest the best place for finding cannabis, but Bulldog Coffeeshop is famous. Their interior and vibe can get you high with psychedelic murals and smoke-filled rooms.

How is it to be a tourist observing the “High and sexy vibe.”

The Red Light District of Amsterdam is unique (some may call it weird), where you can see the world that you aren’t part of it without any hesitation or fear. Red Light District is home to over 200 coffee shops – The area looks like any other area in the morning, while the night gets naughtier. Many buildings here look abandoned because a few coffee shops lose licences now and then. The Dutch Baroque buildings and canals are historic from the outside.

What did I experience as a tourist checking out the “Drugs and dose” vibe in Amsterdam?

But, the inside of these buildings was filled with smoke and murals all over the walls. Some will be lost in their dreams; few will still be sober and talking. There will be many who are just staring at one corner of the wall. But, most will be smoking, enjoying the weed with coffee and cakes, and having a fun conversation with their friends. It is a whole new world that we have never seen before. The music, murals, psychedelic arts, and smoke from smokers can take you higher to a mild extent, even without a single puff.

The Netherlands isn’t alone in legalising a certain amount of drugs. Czechia, Switzerland, and Portugal have decriminalised drug use and possession for personal use as they have invested in harm reduction programmes.

Has it worked in reducing addiction?

Well, you got to stay in the Netherlands for a year at least and observe with the investigators. A one-day Red Light District tour doesn’t reveal all the truth. But the Netherlands is not in the top 10 countries with the highest drug consumers in the world.

It is the human tendency – The more you restrict yourself, curious you get. So this must have helped the Netherlands in reducing the number of addicts.

How was your experience as a tourist exploring Drugs and coffee shops in Amsterdam? Let us know in the comment section below.

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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