The use of drugs is never without risk. If you choose to use drugs, it’s good to be aware of these risks. Below, find a number of useful tips and information.
Always take care of yourself and your friends. If someone is not feeling well, don’t be afraid to ask for help or call medical services at 112. Be honest about what you or your friends have used – the information you provide to medical professionals is confidential and you will not be arrested for drug use. You can learn more about Dutch drugs policies, health risks connected to the consumption of drugs, how to reduce these risks and other drug-related issues on the Jellinek website.
As in the rest of the world, drugs are officially illegal in the Netherlands. Possession, dealing, selling, production and most other acts involving any drug are punishable by law.
The Dutch Narcotics Act distinguishes between hard drugs and soft drugs. When it comes to soft drugs such as cannabis, a tolerance policy is applied in the Netherlands. This means that although the possession and buying of soft drugs are recognised as a violation of the law, you will not be prosecuted if it concerns a maximum amount of five grams of cannabis, and coffeeshops can sell cannabis. To enter a coffeeshop, you must be 18 years of age – your ID will be checked. Visitors should keep in mind that most venues other than coffeeshops do not allow soft drugs to be consumed on their premises. In other words, you may not smoke cannabis in most clubs or bars, even in smoking areas.
Bringing drugs into a club, bar or festival is prohibited. You’ll be searched by security at the entrance. If you’re found to be carrying drugs, you could be removed from the venue and even handed over to the police. As mentioned above, most venues other than coffeeshops do not allow soft drugs to be consumed on their premises – always check the venue’s door policy.
People who sell drugs on the streets are probably the biggest tourist trap – whatever you do, don’t buy drugs from them. What they offer can contain anything from vitamin C or washing powder to highly dangerous substances. If you are being harassed by a drug dealer on the streets, please report this to the police.
Some dealers might be charming at first. For example, they might pretend to be your new local friend. What they’re really doing is checking out if you are an easy victim to sell drugs (or fake drugs) to and if you have valuables they could steal. You will mostly meet them on the streets but some might also approach you in cafés or (low-budget) restaurants. Be smart and ignore them.
Be aware that in the Netherlands, drugs can be a lot more potent than those you might be used to in your own country. Make sure to keep this in mind and adjust your dosage.
Even though the possession of drugs is illegal in the Netherlands, it is possible to get your drugs tested anonymously at an official drug testing service. For more information, visit the English-language website Unity, which is an alcohol and drugs information project active in Dutch nightlife and club scenes.
Please take care of yourself and watch out for each other – never leave someone alone when they are feeling unwell. Get medical help and stay with them until it arrives. In case of an emergency, just ask for help or call 112. The people working there are professionals and what you tell them is confidential, so you won’t get fined or arrested for drug use. Being open about your own or your friends’ drug use will make it much easier for them to help you.
The canals in Amsterdam are beautiful, but they can also be dangerous – and sometimes deadly. Accidents occur when people stumble too close to the water’s edge, and if you happen to fall in it’s not easy to climb back out due to the high walls and cold temperatures. Always mind your step when standing or walking near a canal or waterway, and pay close attention to your surroundings. Please note that it is illegal to urinate in the canals. Public urinals are widely available in Amsterdam, so always find a nearby toilet and stay safe.