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Weed The real legislation on coffee shops in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is known for tulips, windmills, clogs… and also cannabis. In 2010, this plant brought in more than 2 billion euros in the country! But what about cannabis law in the Netherlands? One point is in order.

The cannabis industry in the Netherlands is coming under increasing criticism and there are rumors that foreigners are no longer allowed to buy cannabis in the Netherlands. What about? We unravel the real from the fake: the real legislation on coffee-shops in the Netherlands.

Is it legal to smoke cannabis in Holland?

Drugs (including cannabis) are officially illegal in the Netherlands. But Dutch law makes a distinction between hard drugs (which it is forbidden to distribute, sell, produce or possess) and “soft drugs” (including cannabis).

The sale of cannabis (or its purchase) remains illegal, but break-ins go unprosecuted: the police prefer to target the big traffickers who sell hard drugs rather than messing with small consumers with a few grams of weed on them on condition to respect the 5 golden rules adopted by the parliament in 1996:

• No hard drugs

• No advertising

• Respect for public order

• Prohibition of selling to minors

• No more than 5 grams per transaction and per person

Are coffee shops in Amsterdam forbidden to foreigners?

There are many rumors that coffee shops in Amsterdam are only for locals. It’s wrong. However, it is true that in May 2012 a law was passed which obliged coffee shops in certain cities (such as Maastricht) to reserve access to holders of a specific card, the “wietpas”, which could not be obtained only by Dutch residents. Five months later, this law was repealed, giving the possibility to each municipality to decide if the coffee-shops should be reserved for the Dutch only or if foreigners can have access to them. “Business” obliges, the town hall of Amsterdam has decided that Amsterdam’s coffee shops would remain open to foreigners (and therefore to the French).

In which cities are the coffee shops forbidden to foreigners?

Most cities in the Netherlands allow foreigners to visit coffee shops. However, a number of cities in the south of the country, traditionally affected by “drug tourism” (tourists who come only to buy drugs without spending the night there, therefore not boosting the local economy) have banned the access to coffee shops for foreigners.
So which are the cities* where the French are allowed to enter a coffee-shop to buy cannabis and which are the cities where this is prohibited?

Cities whose Coffee-shops accept foreign tourists*

Amsterdam, Kerkrade, The Hague, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Gouda, Leiden, Weert, Winschoten, Assen, Groningen, Leeuwarden, Meppel, Apeldoorn, Deventer, Emmen, Zwolle, Delft, Schiedam, Gorinchem, Zoetermeer, Haarlem, Hengelo, Enschede, Nijmegen , Arnhem, Zutphen

Cities whose Coffee-shops are reserved for locals only*

Haarlemmermeer, Maastricht, Sittard, Culemborg, Goes (and all the rest of Zeeland), Tilburg
Breda, Oss, Den Bosch, Venlo, Geleen, Venray, Terneuzen, Doetichem, Dordrecht, Amersfoort

*The list is not exhaustive, accurate as of November 14, 2017; the information comes from the site

Is it possible to smoke on the street in Amsterdam and the Netherlands?

As previously mentioned, in the Netherlands, cannabis is not legal, it is only tolerated and only in certain places . The use of cannabis is strictly prohibited in nightclubs, bars or festivals. It is strictly forbidden to smoke cannabis near a school. Some areas have “no smoking weed” signs. Respect them.

Can we smoke cannabis on the street in Amsterdam? In general, avoid smoking cannabis on the street. It is very frowned upon by local people. Do not give a bad image of French people abroad. In conclusion, smoking cannabis is prohibited, but tolerated, provided that you do it discreetly, that is to say inside a coffee shop or in a private place such as your hotel room or your B&B and only if the hotel’s internal regulations authorize it.

How much cannabis can you buy in the Netherlands?

It is allowed to buy cannabis provided you never have more than 5 grams of cannabis on you. If you have more than 5 grams, the police can consider that you are trading and impose a fine of up to 3,500 euros. Possessing more than 30 grams of cannabis is an offense punishable by two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 16,750 euros.

Towards cannabis legislation for the Netherlands?

At the beginning of 2017, a law legalizing the production of cannabis in the Netherlands was passed, but what does that change? Concretely, it is for the state to pull the rug out from under the feet of traffickers by authorizing a handpicked list of producers to plant cannabis. This cannabis will then be supplied to the usual places of distribution.

Legalization of cannabis in the Netherlands, what does it change for consumers?
By authorizing a restricted list of producers, this first of all allows exemplary traceability of cannabis, but also better quality cannabis. Finally, production being less expensive than supplying, the price should also fall, but this is not a reason to abuse it.

Rules to follow absolutely: The use of drugs is never without risk, especially in the Netherlands insofar as the drugs can be much more concentrated than in France. If you ever decide to consume it, moderate your dosages, never buy drugs on the street. Never drive after consuming cannabis. Never use drugs alone. If a friend feels bad, never leave them alone. In the event of an emergency, call the emergency services on 112, there is no risk: the doctors are bound by medical secrecy and are there to help you, not to call the police.

Recall : if cannabis is tolerated in the Netherlands, this is not the case in France. Don’t tempt fate, border controls are numerous. Do not take unnecessary risks: if you have a few grams left at the end of your stay, throw the cannabis you have left in the trash.

[L’usage des drogues n’est jamais sans risque. Cet article n’est pas une incitation à la consommation. Les informations contenues dans cet article sont exactes au 14 novembre 2017]

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