Amsterdam City Guide


11 Pro tips when buying cannabis in Amsterdam

What to look for and what to be aware of when shopping for weed

By Georgios Mouratidis

Ever since the golden age of the 70s, Amsterdam has been the Mecca for cannabis enthusiasts from all over the globe. Almost a third of the 6 million annual visitors in the city will visit at least one coffeeshop during their visit. That’s roughly two million people, with varying cannabis experience. For many of them, trying a blunt is a thrilling new experience, while others came to the city specifically to try the latest and greatest strains.

The Amsterdam coffeeshop scene is very beginner-friendly, and you’ll learn the ropes in no time. However, there are some tips we can share with you to make your experience easier. So, without further ado, here are 11 mistakes to avoid when buying cannabis in Amsterdam coffeeshops.

1. If it don’t smell, it’s wack!

You are more than welcome to see and smell the bud before you buy it. That’s how the pros do it. The smell test is a quick way to determine whether the cannabis you are about to purchase is legit.

The reason?

High-quality cannabis has an overpowering aroma that leaves no room for doubt. Although not all strains smell the same, if the cannabis flower has been grown and cured correctly, you will get the full “bouquet” of terpenes hitting your nose. On the other hand, if you all you can smell is dry hay, it’s time to try another coffeeshop.

A selection of cannabis strains on the counter of an Amsterdam Coffeeshop for the Coffeeshop Guru shop guide
If you want to be sure you buy the best cannabis strain, ask the Budtender if you can smell the product. Picture courtesy of Amsterdam Genetics.

2. Not all coffeeshops are born equal

Naturally, the coffeeshops you’ll encounter in the vicinity of Amsterdam Central Station are more geared towards tourists. While that does not necessarily mean that you will get lousy quality buds, these stores tend to be more expensive. Check our guide to the best Amsterdam coffeeshops if you need some pointers. Some of the best are located relatively near the center.

3. The budtender is your friend

Don’t be shy. Choosing a strain at random from the coffeeshop menu (much like I choose wine at restaurants) is not very efficient. The budtenders are there for a reason, and that reason is to help you make better decisions. Ask about the effects, strength and taste of the strains on offer and don’t hesitate to ask for a recommendation if you’re feeling stuck.

Image courtesy of Get Budding on Unsplash

David, cannabis lover and budtender from The, agrees they are their to help:

Ask the budtenders what you want to smoke, because if you tell them how high your tolerance is (so how often you smoke and how heavy the stuff is that you’re used to smoking) they will know exactly what they have in their stash that is the best fit for you.

At least that is the case with our shops and one of the most rewarding things in our line of work. I love helping people enjoy their first joint or to blow the experienced stoner off their feet by presenting a strain with incredible taste and potency. However, if you give the tasty but super-potent strain to the inexperienced user, he/she will probably have a really bad time. 

It’s all about tailoring the experience to the customer. If our visitors are planning a busy day of sightseeing, we know it’s probably better not to start them with a very potent indica strain. And then, of course, there is always the occasional customer that whispers to you that he/she is buying weed for a special night with a loved one, for which a sativa would be better than an indica – unless you call a good night sleep a “special night”!   😉  

4. Don’t drink and fly

Although I’ll never understand why you’d want to ruin a perfectly good high by drinking alcohol, many people do. Don’t be one of those people. Most of the strains in Amsterdam coffeeshops contain fairly high amounts of psychoactive THC, which does not mix very well with hard spirits.

Spend some time watching the people around the Red Light District on a Friday night. You will be able to spot those who have been drinking and smoking from a mile away. If you absolutely have to drink, do it someplace safe and don’t be an obnoxious tourist. Nobody likes them, and you might even find yourself in trouble.

5. Don’t buy too much weed

Weed in Amsterdam: Not exactly legal! The cannabis industry in Amsterdam operates in a legal gray area that is far too complex to analyze in this article. One of the regulations is that you can only carry up to 5 grams with you at any given time. If the police find more than that on you, you will get a €75 fine (and your weed will be confiscated). Carrying 35 grams or more means you’ll probably have to spend some nights in a 5-star Dutch prison as you will be prosecuted with intent to sell. Fun times.

6. Educate yourself on the best cannabis strains

In the day and age of high-speed internet and cat videos on demand, it’s really easy to find reliable information about cannabis. It’s perfectly alright not to know stuff about cannabis, and we all have to start from somewhere. In fact, if you find yourself lost in the terminology, we have several resources for you. Check out this article about the top 8 beginner strains or this guide on how to enjoy cannabis as a beginner. Better yet, ask a more experienced cannaisseur to show you around.

Ladies out there, you can join cannaisseur Mercii Jane for a GirlyWeedSesh hosted in a different coffeeshop each month. These meet-ups are the perfect way to ease in to the Dutch coffeeshop culture with giveaways, talks, snacks, good vibes, and (most importantly) good advice.

Image courtesy of GirlyWeedSesh

7. Take it easy, tiger

You are not going to impress anyone by consuming too much cannabis. Taking in more than you can handle just to show off is a one-way ticket to Blazeville. Best case scenario, you’ll fall asleep on the counter. Other outcomes involve vomiting, misbehaving and acting like a total fool. Save yourself the embarrassment and stick to your limits. That’s the grown-up thing to do.

8. “Coffeeshop” – not “Koffiehuis” (Coffee Bar in Dutch)

A coffeeshop and a koffiehuis are not the same thing. One sells cannabis buds; the other sells coffee and cakes, although, most coffeeshops sell those too. You’d think that the overpowering smell of cannabis all over the place would make the distinction easier; however, this is quite a common mistake. Licensed coffeeshops have a green and white sticker on the window, so look for that if in doubt.

An official coffeeshop licence sticker on door Coffeeshop Guru shop guide
Only if you see this sticker, you will be sure this is a legit "weed" shop.

9. Don’t behave like an idiot

  • Drinking and consuming cannabis.
  • Consuming too much cannabis.
  • Eating too many edibles.
  • Buying drugs off the street.

These are some of the most idiotic things people do around Amsterdam. Also, these are a surefire way to get in trouble and make a fool of yourself. Amsterdam is famously liberal, and many rules do not apply in the same way, but it certainly is not a place where you can do what you want. It’s only a matter of time before the police or the fists of another drunk guy stops you dead in your tracks.

10. Bring your ID when step into a coffeeshop

If you are over 18 and look younger, congratulations on the good genes, but you will definitely need an ID to get cannabis. If you are not over 18, don’t even bother with coffeeshops unless you look like Danny Trejo. (seriously though, don’t be offended when asked for identification, it’s the law)

11. Get rid of your (emotional) luggage

If you’ve just arrived in Amsterdam and want to dive straight into the action, that’s perfectly fine. However, it is a good idea to store your luggage before you start touring the coffeeshops. Not only are they often crowded and you’ll bother everyone, but being high makes you an easier target for thieves or to forget your bags yourself. There are many places you can find luggage storage in Amsterdam near Central Station.

Enjoy Amsterdam!

As long as you treat cannabis, locals with bikes and Amsterdam with respect, you will have a fantastic time in this diverse city. Stay safe and keep reading our articles to learn more about the coffeeshop culture and science behind cannabis.

Post author
Georgios Mouratidis
George is a travel and cannabis writer. When he is not geeking out playing strategy games or reading obscure history facts, he enjoys experimenting with sounds, hiking and taking photos. His life motto is “Enjoy every sandwich”.
See more from Georgios Mouratidis

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