In my time as a smoker, I’ve travelled to Amsterdam almost 10 times. The first time I had just turned 18 and the first joint I ever had there basically gave me a panic attack. The last time I went was one where I knew I wouldn’t be back for a while, I had other stuff to do and I had seen the sights and done the tourist thing.
One thing that always struck me when talking about my travel experiences to people who hadn’t been or aren’t seasoned stoners, was that the myths that surround Amsterdam are pretty far ranging. I thought I’d clear up some of the of more common myths that you hear about people going to Amsterdam and what you can and can’t do there.
Myth - Cannabis is legal there
This might surprise some of you, even those of you that have been to Amsterdam and smoked cannabis with no problems. Technically, cannabis is not legal in The Netherlands. It is merely tolerated. You’re only allowed to purchase and possess 5g of cannabis at any one time, anything over that amount and you could well be arrested if you found a particularly ornery policeman. Coffeeshops are only allowed to have up to 500g of cannabis at any one time, and it’s not uncommon for the police to raid them if they think they have any more.
Myth - You can’t smoke tobacco in your joints there
This particular myth is one I fell victim to. When the indoor smoking ban came into force a few years ago, it was uncertain what would happen to coffeeshops. People were indeed no longer allowed to smoke cigarettes inside a coffeeshop, and no smoking signs littered the place. Coffeeshops now regularly put out herbal smoking mixtures for people to use in their joints. However, just as many coffeeshops will let you mix tobacco in your joints as long as you don’t leave your tobacco pouch out on the table afterwards, you just have to be polite and ask. Don’t go smoking pure joints because you think you’re not allowed to smoke tobacco in your joints, you’re just going to end up sitting on your hotel bed for the rest of the day feeling like you’re slipping out of existence. Not fun.
Myth - Amsterdam is dangerous
Amsterdam is not dangerous. Not more so than any other major european city. In fact, the red light district is particularly safe because the pimps don’t let any funny business go on, as it’s bad for their business. You might not want to answer anyone who ask you in the middle of the street if you speak English, as they’re either going to ask you for money or be taking it from you.