While our focus is giving travelers a taste of local life on our food tours in Amsterdam, we know that one of the more popular reasons for many younger travelers to visit Amsterdam are the cannabis cafes. These are little restaurants or coffee shops that are allowed to serve marijuana, both on its own to smoke or infused in various baked goods and snacks. There are many tourists who go to Amsterdam to visit these cafes, but there are a lot of myths around them that you should know about.
Myth #1: Cannabis Is Actually Legal
This is the biggest myth when it comes to cannabis cafes in Amsterdam. Since the cafes are famous — or infamous — to t ourists from around the world, the assumption is that marijuana is completely legal in the city and country, but unfortunately this is not the case. Marijuana is decriminalized, meaning that police will not look to arrest you for having or consuming it, but there are zones in Amsterdam where smoking marijuana in public will get you in legal trouble, so make sure you only do it in a cafe.
The police can arrest you for having marijuana, being high, and being a public nuisance. In fact, the mayor of Amsterdam was advocating for tourists to be completely banned from cannabis cafes because of the poor behavior that occurs.
Myth #2: Everyone in Amsterdam Loves Marijuana
There are many people in the city and country that want to make marijuana completely illegal again. It was decriminalized in the 60’s with the intention of making it more acceptable for the population and then completely legalizing it. More than half a century later, and it still has not been legalized fully, indicating that the country is fairly divided about it.
Some strains of weed are actually classified as “hard drugs” by Amsterdam’s legal system, and cannabis cafes face very strict regulations. They can’t be close to schools, they can’t advertise their business, and you absolutely should not look to purchase weed on the streets.
Myth #3: They Only Serve Marijuana
This is another common myth. In fact, most cannabis cafes will have full kitchens to serve various foods and drinks, including dishes that have no marijuana at all. They also serve some CBD products, like CBD gummies, which are also made from cannabis but don’t make you high like marijuana.
You can go to the cafes for the experience, but if you aren’t comfortable with marijuana you can find something to eat and drink. Some of the cafes are basically full restaurants with a good selection of food, or smaller coffee shops that will only serve little snacks. You can look up the shops online ahead of time if you want to see their menus, so you can find somewhere that has food you like.
Keep all of this in mind when you travel to Amsterdam. They don’t mind the existence of the cafes and the tourism it brings to the city, but they do not have much patience for overly rowdy behavior. You can go to soak in the atmosphere of the cafes, and being able to smoke marijuana or eat their edibles and relax has some appeal.