Amsterdam Drugs Laws

Amsterdaam coffeshop logo sign

Amsterdam drug laws evolved the same way as laws in other countries during the past century, but the solutions taken in the Netherlands, differ from the rest of the world.

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Principles influencing Dutch drug laws

Dutch drug policy is directed by an idea that every human being may decide about the matters of their own health.

Another idea which guides Dutch laws in their drug policy is a conviction that hiding negative social phenomena makes them worse. Because when concealed, they become more difficult to influence and control.

Applying these ideas to their drug laws, the Dutch have decriminalized the consumption of soft drugs, making it a private matter of each individual. And not a matter for the enforcement apparatus. However production, trading and stocking drugs remain a criminal offence.

The Dutch see the use of drugs as a health matter, similar to obesity, alcoholism and tobacco smoking.

They also point to the fact that prohibition of alcohol in the US in the years 1919-1933 brought many negative effects.

Amsterdam drug laws

Cannabis in all its forms (weed, hashish, hash oil, ...) is legal under condition of so called "personal use". Smoking of cannabis even in public is not prosecuted. Selling it although technically illegal under still valid Opium Act from 1919, is tolerated. If it happens in an official coffeeshop. This must be done in small portions, 5 grams maximum on person, sale only to adults, no minors on the premises, no advertisement of drugs.

Hard drugs such as cocaine, LSD, morphine, heroin are forbidden in the Netherlands just as in any other country.

Halucinogenic mushrooms - Magic shrooms

The sale of most of hallucinogenic mushrooms (also known as magic mushrooms or paddos), has been forbidden starting November 1, 2008. More than 200 different mushrooms were put on the ban list and are presently regarded by the Dutch drug law (Opiumwet - Opium Act) as dangerous as cocaine or heroine.

Never really considered as drugs before, the paddos were previously sold by so called smart shops along with popular natural medicines such as Ginkgo Biloba, Guarana, Cola, some herbs, food additives and vitamins. The decision to stop their sale has been taken after almost a hundred cases were recorded each year, when the medical help has been required linked to the consumption of paddos in Amsterdam only. Involving mainly foreign tourists. Tragically, three of these cases ended as serious accidents. One of them in the tragic death of the 17-year old French girl. Hundreds of people demonstrated in Amsterdam against the ban, before it had been introduced. Today, hallucinogenic mushrooms are forbidden in all of the Netherlands. Along with all hard drugs.

Several sorts of mushrooms, most notably the less strong "truffles", were not placed on the ban list. Smart shops continue to sell them. In addition, the spores of some paddos are sometimes on sale.

Strictly restricted quantities, large scale cultivation forbidden

There are strict laws limiting quantities of soft drugs and conditions of theirs sale and use. Driving under the influence of soft drugs is equal to driving under the influence of alcohol. Large scale growing, processing and trading in marijuana is still forbidden as in any other country. But the penalties given by the courts are much lower than abroad.

Some of the municipalities in the Netherlands introduce their own additional regulations regarding specific issues related to law enforcement, prosecution and use of soft drugs. In the pirit of pragmatism, minor offences as a small violation of the admitted quantities, are usually not prosecuted. Because the prosecution and imprisonment is seen by the authorities as expensive and linked to several other negative social effects which outweigh the positive.

The Dutch did not solve the question of controlled supply of soft drugs. While the large-scale growth and trade of marijuana is forbidden and prosecuted, the question remains how the coffeeshops all over the country can obtain their supplies within this law.

Twofold approach

The Dutch do not see their tolerant policy towards limited soft drug use as some miraculous solution. They try to prevent drug abuse through educational measures, closely monitoring the scene of drug abuse, fighting with consequences of the abuse by health measures such as free testing of ecstasy pills, free syringe exchange program and free methadone supply program for heroine users. Today in 60 Dutch cities, hundreds of these programs operate on daily basis, deeply influencing life in the country. At the same time, Dutch authorities try to eliminate deadly illegal drugs by combating drug trafficking. Then again, through their tolerant policies towards soft drugs, they hope to be able to better control the social phenomena of drug abuse. For example, the statistical data certifies that among young people of medium age 28 in the Netherlands, only 16% ever smoked marijuana. Soft drugs when widely accessible seem to lose much of their appeal.


The website strives to provide reliable tourist information about the city of Amsterdam. We do not view any drugs as a tourist attraction, nor recommend trying them. The issue of drug abuse is of such complexity, that the information provided in this short article may not be complete or truthful.