Amsterdam Coffeeshops | Short Guide

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1 december 2017

Amsterdam has a shaky relationship with cannabis, and while a good high might be synonymous with the city, its presence isn’t always welcomed. To regulate its use, Amsterdam’s municipality legalised coffeeshops in 1980; a ruling that effectively decriminalised the institutionalised drug dealing that takes place under these establishments’ roofs. This decision has been contested ever since, and coffeeshops are always under the watchful eye of the law. Nonetheless, many are firmly established businesses and try to keep their ventures upright while catering to Amsterdam’s stoner community. To help you get the most out of your next trip to Amsterdam, we’ve put together some tips on the etiquette surrounding these iconic haunts.

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Strains

Cannabis has been bred into thousands of strains that each have their own distinctive flavor, aroma and potency. Most coffeeshops stock several strains and will let clients examine their wares before buying. Their staff are usually pretty knowledgable about weed and are happy to give recommendations. Hybrid strains tend to be stronger than their organic cousins and it’s worth asking about each bud’s effects.

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Rolling

While most coffeeshops stock smoking paraphernalia and allow their clients to spark up with bongs or pipes, locals rarely use these items. Most Amsterdammers prefer to roll their own joint, and lighting a giant skull-shaped bong will likely attract disapproving looks inside classier coffeeshops. Obviously, learning to roll takes experience and can be exceptionally tricky to master. To get around this pitfall it’s wise to pick up a pre-made joint or practice with a handheld rolling machine; both of which are readily available.

Maybe leave the bong collection at home

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Drinking

By Dutch law, coffeeshops are prohibited from selling alcohol. The logic behind this legislation is quite simple; cannabis and booze are just fine, but mixing them together tends to lead to catastrophic situations. To combat this, coffeeshops keep to soft drinks, and it is important to remember that most establishments expect guests to order a beverage before settling into a session. There are, however, a handful of bars that allow clients to spark up in designated smoking areas.

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Edibles

Space cakes are a delicious alternative to conventional stoning methods, and ingesting cannabis generally leads to a prolonged, mellow high. These tempting edibles come in several varieties, and many coffeeshops bake their own brownies, cupcakes and cookies. Before chowing down, it’s a good idea to plan out your evening, as stronger space cakes take a while to kick in and will last for several hours.

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Ambience

Every coffeeshop is different and has its own particular ambience. Tourists generally head to the Red Light District or Rembrandtplein, and gravitate around larger coffeeshops. Whereas Jorndaan, Haarlemmerdijk and the area around Dam Square are known for their quieter establishments. Also you usually have better quality product outside of the centre. Because these establishments focus on everyday customers, they can’t slip and sell crap. The red light shops are a little less picky, but ofcourse have the more exciting atmosphere.

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Smoking

Coffeeshops are legally required to hang a green and white sign on their front windows. These symbols identify legit drug vendors and indicate that smoking is allowed inside. Although cannabis is decriminalised, it is considered rude to smoke joints in public spaces, particularly in areas where food and drink is being served (e.g. the terrace of a restaurant). You can smoke a joint while strolling the Amsterdam streets. A police officer will still greet you.

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Coming Down

If things are getting a bit heavy, try to relax and remember that weed isn’t all that potent; in fact its effects rarely last more than two hours. Hot, sugary drinks usually help to elevate nausea and double up as soothing remedies that can quickly ease anxious minds. Eating a large, hearty meal works wonders as well, especially with a group of sympathetic friends. Fortunately, coffeeshops deal with cannabis related symptoms all the time and many have extensive menus that are designed around stoners’ needs.

Special thanks to our friends from The Culture Trip
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