When you think of the Netherlands, what is the first thing that you think of? Chances are, cannabis is one of the first things that comes to mind. Thanks to the prominence of places such as the Amsterdam coffee shops in popular culture, the country is regularly seen as a very popular destination for marijuana enthusiasts.
However, did you know that cannabis is still technically illegal? Thankfully, it has been decriminalised for personal usage in designated areas, and current estimates suggest there are 570 coffee shops operating across the country. So whilst you cannot smoke cannabis on public streets, utilising any of the coffee shops is fine.
A short history of cannabis in the Netherlands
History shows that cannabis was widely smoked across the country in the 17th century, when locals would mix marijuana and tobacco together to smoke in their pipes. Usage remained very popular until it was banned by the government and various religious organisations.
The modern history of marijuana begins back in the 1970s, when the Netherlands started to adopt a more tolerant approach to soft drug use. It was during this time the infamous coffee shops began to open, with Amsterdam’s first shop, The Bulldog, opening in 1975.
Since then, the country has continued its lenient approach to softer drugs, giving rise to the many coffee shops found across the region today.
Cannabis and the law
Although you are not legally allowed to smoke cannabis in public, if caught in city centres, the police will often issue a warning for the first offence and confiscate any amount over five grams. Selling cannabis, however, is enforced far more strictly, and you will be more likely to be prosecuted if caught.
This law only applies to private sellers, and coffee shops are allowed to sell to customers as long as they follow a strict set of rules, which include:
- Selling no more than five grams of cannabis per person, per day
- Not selling marijuana to anyone underage
- No minors allowed to enter the shop
- No alcohol to be sold
- Keeping stock levels below 500 grams
- Restricting access and sales to people who live outside the Netherlands
Some of these laws are enforced more strictly than others. For example, selling to a minor will see their licence revoked immediately, whereas selling to non-residents is often tolerated.
The laws around growing cannabis are also less enforced. While cultivation is illegal, growing a few plants at home is decriminalized, and if caught with less than five plants, they will likely just be confiscated without prosecution. Personal usage is the key term here, and regardless of the number of plants, if police find signs that the grower is cultivating cannabis for commercial reasons, then they will be prosecuted and could face community service or even imprisonment.
It is legal to buy and sell cannabis seeds across the Netherlands, and they are also able to be legally sent into the country via the national postal service. The use of CBD is also decriminalised for personal use.
What about medicinal cannabis?
It is probably no surprise that The Netherlands was amongst the first countries worldwide to legalise medicinal cannabis. The process began in 1999 when the then Health Minister Els Borst began to advocate for its use before production and prescription use began in 2001.
How to buy cannabis in the Netherlands
When it comes to buying marijuana in the Netherlands, coffee shops remain the most popular place for tourists and residents. Although only small quantities are allowed to be sold per person per day, locals of all ages tend to stop by for a daily smoke.
Many coffee shops sell pre-rolled joints, but vaporisers and bongs are also available. Rules within each shop are strictly enforced, which means no hard drugs can be sold, no normal cigarettes or alcohol to be consumed indoors, and all visitors must be able to produce an ID when asked to prove they are over the age of 18.
Each shop will usually provide customers with a wide variety of marijuana to choose from, and the expert staff will be happy to discuss options with visitors. There will also be a wide choice of quality and price, ensuring there is something for every budget and customer.
If smoking is not something that you fancy, then the Netherlands also allows the sale and consumption of cannabis edibles and concentrates such as space cakes and brownies.
Coffee shops are the leading way to purchase cannabis products, not only thanks to the ease of use but also for the high-quality marijuana consumers can enjoy. However, whilst illegal, for residents, it is possible to grow your own plants for personal use, and growshops have become a popular choice since the 1980s. These shops are allowed to sell all of the equipment to grow cannabis, but they are not allowed to cultivate or grow the plant themselves.
Top tips for buying from a coffee shop
If you are heading into a coffee shop for the first time, it can be a little daunting, but here are some top tips for first-timers:
- Bring your ID:
You will need to prove to shop owners you are over the age of 18
- Consult the menu
Don’t rush in and buy the first joint you spot. Browse through the menu and chat with the staff, they will be able to help you find the right product for you. You should also talk to the staff about the right strain, the last thing you want is to order a product that is too strong for you.
- Buy pre-rolled
If you are not used to smoking joints, then opt for a pre-rolled option as these will likely contain a mix of tobacco and marijuana, or fill those cones directly by yourself at home.
- Double-check your product
The Netherlands is renowned for its high-quality product, but occasionally bad product can find its way through. To check yours is fresh, look for well-trimmed buds, a strong aroma and good moisture content.
- Stay away from the tourist traps
Thousands of tourists flock to the Netherlands every year, which has led to some shops opening up to meet the demand, resulting in low quality but high prices. Speaking with some locals will help you find the shops that they visit, which can lead you to a much better product!
- Ask before lighting
Although most shops will let you light up inside, some will not allow any smoking on-site, so before you light your joint, double-check it is OK to smoke there.
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We are not only here for the enthusiasts though, Eurocones also provides a host of innovative solutions for dispensaries and retailers. Our filling machines are able to fill up to 300 cones in just a matter of minutes, saving businesses countless hours of having to roll joints themselves.
So whatever you are thinking, if you are seeking pre-rolled cones, or you want to discover the benefits of our filling machines, check out the full range here.