Coffee Shops in Amsterdam
For the pot smoker, visiting Amsterdam is a special privilege. While marijuana is not exactly legal, for the past 30 years smoking has not been regarded as criminal behavior, and excellent supplies of marijuana and hashish are available from the city's many cannabis coffeeshops at a reasonable price
In the coffeeshops you can purchase pot and hash over the counter, sit down and roll up a bomber or use the house glass if you don't have your own, and smoke at your leisure. Anywhere else, please, always ask permission to smoke cannabis before lighting up. It's a whole lot less embarrassing than being told to put it out or leave
It is important to be aware that the Dutch coffeeshop scene is under severe political attack like never before. Incessant pressure from other countries?the US, France and Sweden are the top three culprits?and a rising conservative tide in the Dutch legislative body have left the shops more vulnerable than at almost any time in their history
The coffeeshop movement dates back to the early 1970s, but the past seven years have brought several major changes in the rules which regulate the cannabis trade. First the shops were forced to choose between serving alcohol or cannabis products, and while there are still more than 50 cannabis cafes where you can get both a drink and a smoke, by January 1, 2007 they will be entirely a thing of the past.
Then the government mandated that there could be no advertising of the availability of cannabis products at any establishment. Even the ever-present cannabis menus at the shops must now be displayed face down until the customer requests to examine them or asks to see the buds and blocks of hash on hand. Now there is even talk of an actual smoking ban in the shops themselves, ostensibly to protect the workers from second-hand smoke
So be aware that decriminalized public smoking is a privilege to be both respected and enjoyed while you're in Amsterdam. It's not a big thing to the Dutch citizenry but an acceptable recreational activity best practiced in private or in designated public areas like the coffeeshops. Your stay will be most rewarding if you maintain a sense of decorum and respect the local customs wherever you go