In The Netherlands, and especially Amsterdam, coffee shops are the only establishments where police ‘allow’ small quantities of cannabis to be sold. The sale of other drugs or alcohol is prohibited in these coffee shops, however most of them do serve food and soft drinks.


Pure weed is still allowed to be smoked inside coffee shops in Amsterdam. The only limitation in place is in relation to tobacco. If you prefer smoking weed mixed with tobacco products then you will either have to smoke in an upstairs or downstairs room in the coffee shop, or, if the cafe is small, not at all.


The official policy of the Dutch government is that the sale of cannabis is ‘illegal but not punishable’ which means that the police tolerate its sale in licensed coffee shops. Be aware, smoking cannabis in front of the police in a blatant manner will almost certainly lead to you being arrested and cautioned. Always conduct yourself in a respectful way.

The following conditions apply to the sale of cannabis in licensed coffee shops:

  • no advertising
  • no hard drug sales on the premises
  • no sales to children (under Dutch law, that is people under the age of 18)
  • no sales transactions exceeding a quantity threshold (5 grams)
  • no public disturbances

Because of the ban on advertising your shop as selling cannabis, most coffee shops have symbols or artwork associated with the Rastafari movement displayed in their windows or above the shop. Menus are often kept below the counter and officially (as of 2009) confectionery containing THC cannot be sold on the premises. Unofficially, most coffee shops still sell brownies, cookies etc.


From 2008, no coffee shops have been allowed within a 250 meter radius of any school. This meant the closure of 43 coffee shops in Amsterdam.