Can I Smoke Cannabis in Amsterdam? Update Oct. 2011

Dutch Cannabis Coffeeshops have been in the news recently. Headlines like ‘No Tourists in Netherland’s Coffeeshops’ and ‘Dutch to ban foreigners from Cannabis Coffeeshops’ have dotted the news for the last year.

When In Amsterdam has received many questions from prospective visitors asking if they will be able go to Amsterdam’s famous Cannabis Coffeeshops when visiting the city in the forthcoming months. The simple answer is, Yes.

For a November 2012 update click here.

Why all the attention?

Feb. 2010: National Government critics Amsterdam for not enforcing the 2008 agreement of Local Councils of a 250 meter exclusion zone of Cannabis Coffeeshops near schools.

May 2011: National Government announces plans to introduce a ‘Weed Pass’ that would limit entrance to Cannabis Coffeeshops to residents of the Netherlands.

Oct. 2011: National Government says it will move to ban strong strains of Cannabis.

The political attention of Cannabis Coffeeshops has been led by the Christian Democrats (CDA).  The CDA is conservative political party that has been in power, as part of a coalition, at national level since 2001.

Today, the CDA has a strict policy on drugs. Since 2008 the CDA policy stance on drugs is that ‘the Dutch policy of tolerance towards drugs should be abolished and that all Coffeeshops should be closed’. It should be noted that it was the CDA that created the policy of drug tolerance in the early 1970s that eventually allowed Coffeeshops to become licensed businesses.

Simply put nothing has changed in Amsterdam over the last few years. Cannabis Coffeeshops that have closed have so because they have broken the strict rules of their license. 

If you are visiting Amsterdam you are free to visit a Coffeeshop as long as you have ID that stipulates you are over 18 years of age.

Enjoy the liberties Amsterdam has to offer but please don’t take it too far. Amsterdam cannabis is strong and many a visitor has over estimated its potency and this has detracted from their visit.

When in Amsterdam…enjoy!

Fun facts:

  • Dutch cultivated opium in their colonies for centuries ending in 1915. Opium production accounted for 10% of income from Dutch colonies. Most income came from selling slaves.
  • In 1900 Dutch open Cocaine producing factory. 14 000 kg of cocaine produced per year until WWI. During WWI 30 000 kg were produced per year. The Netherlands was the leading world producer of cocaine in the 1920s and 1930s.

What is a Coffeeshop?


A licensed business that sells small amounts of soft drugs: cannabis and hashish. They are called Coffeeshops because they do not possess an alcohol serving license and they do serve coffee.