Almost everyone associates The Netherlands, and Amsterdam in particular, with coffeeshops and marijuana. And while there are a lot of coffeeshops in Holland, the dutch don’t really share this view. In this article we’re exploring what the cannabis-culture is like in the Netherlands.
Coffeeshops, which sell coffee but also sell a wide array of THC-containing products, are pretty common in most cities. Apart from Amsterdam, most cities have an average of 5 to 10 coffeeshops. These are pretty much what you might expect from a coffeeshop; a bar, reggea, R&B or hiphop music, and a menu with the different kinds of hasj, haze and weed they sell. Most coffeeshops have a smoking area where customers can relax and smoke.
While all kinds of people go to coffeeshops, the main public is either tourists or people between the ages of 18 and 30.
Most cannabis-enthousiast know that marijuana is a lot less damaging than other drugs and even alcohol. But most dutchies don’t concern themselfs with this kind of information, and as a result smoking weed still isn’t really accepted in the dutch society. You can’t smoke weed in smoking area’s and while it’s perfectly normal to have a beer with coworkers, it generally isn’t a great idea to smoke a joint on casual Friday at the office.
An upside to this is that when you do figure out someone in your social circels smokes weed you instantly have a connection. I’ve lived in the Netherlands my entire life, and I’ve been surprised on numerous occasions by finding out that someone that I’ve known for some time smokes weed as well.
Most coffeeshops aren’t in the center of town, next to the big stores. In Amsterdam you can find coffeeshops pretty much anywhere, but this isn’t the standard. Coffeeshops legally can’t advertise so you’ll have to be lucky to find one in you’re in an unfamiliar city.
Marijuana and the Law
The law on marijuana is pretty twisted in the Netherlands. It’s legal to sell and buy weed in coffeeshops, but no more than 5 grams at a time. But if you happen to get arrested with marijuana on you, the police will confiscate it.
Coffeeshop can’t legally buy weed (since it’s illegal to grow) but they do declare the costs of buying weed on their taxes. These laws are so crazy because weed isn’t technically legal; it’s tolerated.
It is tolerated to smoke weed in public, but police legally can take your weed away if they see you smoking marijuana (but this rarely happends if you’re not causing any trouble).
Many people don’t really get the marijuana-policies in the Netherlands – mainly because of the twisted image they get from movies or stories. But while I’m really happy to be able to buy weed in a store legally, the system could be a lot better and the Netherlands still have a long way to go before marijuana will overtake alcohol.