The Traveling Toker: Smoking Weed in Amsterdam

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PHOTOS: Laura Notini

Amsterdam is definitely a must-see destination for the traveling toker. The city is famous for the hundreds of coffeeshops that call it home, places where anyone over the age of 18 can purchase and consume marijuana without fear of criminal consequences. A coffeeshop is a place of community to share with old friends and new – people from all over the world and local to the Netherlands – and a place to consume an enjoyable and harmless plant in comfort.

Coffeeshops in Amsterdam vary widely in their atmosphere and theme, and there really is something for everyone. Some places are filled with neon and modern stylings while others have pillows, dim lights, and candles. Music also varies from shop to shop; some spin tunes for chilling out while others are perfect for getting energized. Part of the fun is exploring. And when you leave your chosen shop, Amsterdam, with its beautiful canals and distinctive architecture, is a perfect example of a great walking city.

menuCoffeeshops feature menus of marijuana and hash, usually viewable at or behind the counter. Some shops will offer a brief description of the products, emphasizing taste, strength and effect. It is usually possible to see and smell the options you’re interested in before making a purchase. Prices can range from 6 or 7 Euros a gram up to 18 Euros for the strongest and fanciest buds. Coffeeshops can only sell each individual person 5 grams at a time, but can provide a varied selection of different choices weighing up to 5 grams, if you like to sample.

Most coffeeshops also offer papers and filters to use for rolling cone joints, which are popular in the Netherlands. Some also have glass pipes and bongs to borrow (usually requiring a deposit), or vaporizers set up for customer use.

jointRoll with tobacco? Many Europeans do, and many of the pre-rolled joints sold individually in coffeeshops are a blend of tobacco with either marijuana or hashish. If you’d like to consume just weed, look for a “pure” joint, or ask for something without tobacco. If you’re smoking with new friends, be sure to inquire, and let others know what’s inside if you’re passing your own.

If you’re staying to smoke at a coffeeshop, it is polite to buy a beverage even if the shop doesn’t require it (some do). Plus you’ll want to – Dutch tradition dictates that coffee should always come with a miniature sweet snack like a cookie or biscuit, which is just delicious, and most places offer a wide variety of drinks like Chocomel, fruit juices, and milkshakes. Some places even have snacks like grilled cheese or hummus if you’ve got the munchies!

Of the hundreds of options in Amsterdam, here are a few favorites:

The Bushdocter
The Bushdocter offers two locations in the heart of Amsterdam. The shop near Rembrandtplein is really relaxed, with narrow winding staircases connecting 4 floors of places to chill, and an outdoor smoking area in front of the shop. It is also one of the few places in the city that you can borrow a concentrate pipe to use.

Grey Area
The Grey Area is known as the “American Coffeeshop,” and also as the place to find some of the best weed in the city. It’s small, with only a couple of tables, and sometimes has a line out the door. The line gives you time to check out the surroundings, walls of stickers and notes from friends around the world.

The Greenhouse is a frequent cannabis cup winner, and has a diverse menu as well as a wide variety of eats at the larger location on Haarlemmerstraat. As an added plus, the floor is a giant aquarium.

Bon Voyage!