Marijuana in Europe
Ethnocentric Americans believe that because something is illegal in the US, it's wrong everywhere. However, many Europeans believe that marijuana is a recreational drug to be enjoyed by adults — much like alcohol. Those interested in "going local" with respect to marijuana during their European travels have few ways to compare notes. Let this be a forum for discussion. Was it safe to smoke? Did you feel comfortable? Did it add to your travel experience? Any pitfalls to avoid?
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Update (1 Nov 2012)
According to the NY Times, the mayor of Amsterdam announced yesterday (Nov 1, 2012) that, while the law will continue on the books, it will not be enforced in Amsterdam. He justified this by saying that people would otherwise continue to search for the cannibis, but that a worse, illegal market would spring up to supply it. The article also indicates that the head of the incoming government has aleady indicated that they will allow local councils to overrule the prohibitive law if they so desire (thus providing the framework for Amsterdam's actions)
San Francisco, CA USA 11/02/2012
I traveled from AMS to CPH in 4/2011 via a Eurolines bus with approximately a gram on me. We were stopped at the German border by the border police. The police suspected two other passengers were carrying drugs and our bus was held up for about an hour. Eventually, the cops let us through without incident. But, when we got to Hamburg (for a bus transfer), there were a number of border patrol waiting for us with a mobile X-ray machine. They made us scan our belongings and then we were free to go. Talk about stressful, that was the absolute worst bus trip ever. l made it through unscathed, but won't ever consider doing that again. To make matters worse, the next day I strolled through Christiana in CPH and saw how easy it was to procure mary jane. smh, lesson learned.
Sacramento, CA USA 06/30/2012
Mary Jane in Germany
Southern Germany: You'll have to KNOW someone to purchase weed. Also, if you're caught possesing, cops (in Munich for example) will charge you, even with as little as 2-3 grams. In Munich you really don't want to get caught with weed. Doesn't mean there isn't tons around ;) Bavarian drug policy comes close to the DEA's.
Munich, Germany 05/29/2012
Coffee Shops in Amsterdam
I read in my local paper just recently that coffee shops will be in business as usual in Amsterdam until January 2013. Apparently, the biggest concern was with major foreign traffickers in the southern regions of the Netherlands. All the reading I've done indicates that the city government of Amsterdam is fighting the loss of selling cannibis to tourists big time. It will be a major loss of tourism and dollars if enacted in Amsterdam.
Phoenix, AZ USA 05/07/2012
Can a tourist join a coffee shop "club?"
I heard the laws have changed, but are there exceptions/loopholes? As a tourist there for four days, I was looking forward to some harmless sampling. Can a Dutch resident get me some? Do I have any options?
Editor's Note: All questions should be posted on the Traveler's Helpline at http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm.
Raleigh, NC USA 03/25/2012
I went to the cannabis cup in 2005 with a friend. We each spent $5,000 for a months stay, but were severely disappointed. The quality of the weed was terrible, (much better in Seattle,WA.), and except for the staff of the coffee shops, a lot of Dutch are rude and arrogant, not to mention racially prejudice - (check out their Christmas traditions, probable the only country that still tolerates the use of "black face" costumes.) I WOULD NEVER GO BACK AND I'M SORRY I EVER WENT. BAD (NOT GOOD) WEED Stupid people, alcohol is the problem, not weed. Puke and feces all over the sidewalks from DRUNKS.
Seattle, WA USA 10/02/2011
To the recent poster who indicated that Amsterdam coffee shops are closing to tourists, I don't believe this is accurate. I've read from reliable sources that the country's official "Dutch Tolerance Policy" was renewed July 1, 2011, and will be good until at least June 30, 2015, meaning business as usual. I think there was a strong challenge to the law, but it was upheld.
NA, USA 09/07/2011
End of Pot Tourism
The new NL laws have passed. At the end of they year Coffeeshops will ONLY sell to Dutch residents. No more pot tourism.
It has been this way in the south and along the German border for quite some time now. But starting 2012, all of Netherlands will have this policy.
Each coffeeshop will only allow to sell to members. One can only gain membership with a Dutch ID. I heard that only 1500 memberships will be given to each coffeeshop, but that sounds harsh, and anti-business. Imagine if the government told Costco or Sams club that they could only sell a finite amount of memberships.
To me, this all seems like a step backwards
Dusseldorf, NRW DE 08/06/2011
Hi. I'm not from US but want to share my view on buying. In the mid '90 marijuana was decriminalized in Poland, but still - buying mainly meant knowing some thugs. After criminalization, things are not going too well in my country... But still - buying and smoking makes an adventure. I'm mid '30 and still love it. So I was in Christiania in Denmark where it was all different - pushers have their little tables outside with tons of stuff. It looked so... I'd say - even inaprioprate ;) But their stuff goes beyond. Go people before they ruin the site with new apartments. Cheers
Warsaw, Poland 07/08/2011
laws in the Netherlands
The laws in the Netherlands will start to change starting at the end of 2011. By 2012, you must be a member of a club to purchase Grass. But I was just there a week ago, all is well for now...
basel, CH 06/29/2011
what is this I hear that the coffee shops in Adam will be locals only? Is this true? Pease say no.
luecadia, ca USA 06/18/2011
I was in Prague recently, and after a couple days was able to get some smoke. Most of the locals that we met there smoke regularly, so we were able to try a few different varieties! We took some with us on the train to Amsterdam ( I know - who brings weed to Amsterdam, lol) and had no trouble, but I would hesitate to take it out of Amsterdam because of the possibility of dogs.
Philadelphia, PA USA 01/20/2011
People, I've lived in Germany for almost 7 years, and cars get stopped at the border also. It is very stupid to take pot over the border! Don't try it, you don't want to end up in jail!
Amsterdam to Venice
When we exited the airplane in Venice arriving from Amsterdam they had dogs sniffing all the luggage and the passengers
Don't worry so much, enjoy yourself. You can smoke discreetly almost anywhere you go. I can tell you that while smoking in Belgium is not an issue, finding it is a bit of a challenge. You will not find any in France unless you KNOW someone. Taking it across the border on the trains, not really an issue unless you have too much. I passed two different sets of the dogs, and they didn't even look my way. I believe that they use the dogs to maintain a sense of security and control more than arrest. Just be responsible, you are there to fund their countries, learn, and explore, if you are responsible, they will reciprocate. Ireland has none. You think the States are conservative, Ireland was tooo uptight for this guy. Beautiful, but won't be going back.
Underground, Fl USA 08/04/2010
Pot in Europe
Presuming you find yourself in Amsterdam and are inclined to toke the coffee shops offer nice options. The first I visited offered six varieties of pot, four of hash and "space cookies." I did see a drug bust on the steets of Amsterdam but was told it was for harder drugs. Even in Amsterdam pot is illegal (strictly speaking) but in the proper environment they look the other way.
On my last trip a friend traveling with me on the train in Germany said that he had brought some with him. I was not thrilled but there were no repercussions for it. It worried me because I have seen sniffer dogs on trains in Germany and Switzerland. As with other posts, I recommend discression.
Dallas, Texas USA 07/26/2010
I bought some marijuana in Amsterdam and it was so fine...I carried the bag with me for the rest of our trip through Europe, but just like at home, I was discreet about where i smoked it and how much i smoked. It was a fun part of the trip with friends, but I would not go to any trouble to find weed anywhere else. We left Amsterdam by car, good thing, because I was later told that trains leaving Amsterdam are patrolled by sniffer dogs. I don't know if this is true or not, but the very last thing I need is to be busted for dope in Europe, so better safe than sorry.
chicago, IL USA 07/07/2010
Be cool and enjoy the trip
As someone who smokes at home it is only natural that I would smoke abroad, consequently I have have enjoyed cannabis in (besides the Netherlands)Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, Italy Austria, England, and Slovenia. Years of experiences in a wide variety of locales have convinced me that there are many, many like-minded people in Europe. All one needs is a modicum of discretion to avoid potentially unpleasant occurrences. Be aware of your surroundings and respect the rights of others and one can smoke fairly freely across the continent. For those who are riding the high horse of 'morality' I must gently remind you that cannabis is illegal only for political reasons, not because it is deadly or addictive. In my travels I have personally witnessed numerous instances of drunken behaviour disturbing the social order yet not one stoner creating an embarrasing or dangerous scene (exception being the young louts who treat Amsterdam like Disneyland). If you can behave like a civilized adult you will have no problem enjoying the enhancement or relaxation of cannabis while traveling. Happy high trails to you.
wyo USA 06/02/2010
Mary Jane in Europe
I've been to europe 2 times now. I love traveling through europe it's so amazing.
First time I went, I spent 3 weeks traveling through France, Belgium and Netherlands. Fine smoke in AmsterD if you ask me. Do not even think about transporting via airplane. Not worth it. They search you and your bags thoroughly.
Second time I went, I spent a month in France, Switzerland and Italy. You could probably score some in Switzerland, you'd have to risk doing a "hey mister".
In my personal opinion as a user, I think reefer can inhance the travel experience, but the risk of being arrested or kicked out of the country is not worth catching that kind of buzz if you ask me. Just drink a few beers and do some people watching and I think you'll have a grand ol' time. Enjoy your travels!!!
Austin, TX USA 03/23/2010