Amsterdam has been a symbol of cannabis freedom for a few decades already. Long traditions like Cannabis cup and coffeeshops created a profile of a city that welcomes tourists from all over the world just because there is no problem smoking weed here. Whether you just want to do some cannabis tasting, or you just like to buy some cannabis seeds to grow home, Amsterdam is the place to be.

So, here we are. Tourist buses load off thousands of weed-hungry people, older couples visit the Red Light district and stop for a smoke and a laugh at one of the biggest attractions: coffeeshops. I mean “coffeeshops” with many “”””…Nowhere is “coffee” so popular. It is a normal day in Amsterdam.

But is it really legal?

Is buying and smoking cannabis products in Amsterdam totally legal? No, and here lies the big misconception. The use and possession of small quantities is tolerated, but this does not mean that smoking in public is legal. The toleration policy just means that the a political decision has been taken to not prosecute certain offenses. Simply put, they just took away the profits of cannabis from organized crime and gave them to the coffeeshop owners. But still, it is prohibited by law to smoke weed in public (also drinking alcohol in public is not allowed here).

There is a tolerance from the police in Amsterdam to smoke in public now (after so many years of stoned tourists they got used to it). Most of the times they will just give you a standard warning that you should not smoke in the street. Another misconception is that everybody is “High Friendly” in Amsterdam. Wrong again. Many locals, if not most of them, just tolerate it or simply don’t care, but that does not mean they share the same values as the stoners. They do not get high and they get annoyed by the stoned crowds of teenagers.

Even though policies by the Dutch governments have made a conservative turn, the Cannabis market literally flourishes in the Netherlands and Amsterdam, and is a main point of sale for tourists in the area. This is why there is also a wide variety of strains on offer in coffeeshops, to tailor to everybody’s needs and interests.

Among the big variety of cannabis products, some of the most popular strains are obviously the Winners of Cannabis Cup. Factors like THC potency and smell and taste are just a few of the criteria in order to rank well amongst the competitors’ products. A team of experienced judges is the one who decides which seed company created the best indica, sativa and hybrid strains. Then these products find their way to the open market (coffeeshops). Moreover, Cannabis seeds banks use high technology methods to make new breeds. A lot of experiments are always on progress and the results are presented not only in Amsterdam but across the world via internet shops.

Here are some of the latest trends in the local market.

Some TIPS when visiting a Coffeeshop

Take it easy: any cannabis products you will find for sale in the Dutch coffeeshops will be strong and you can get knocked out if you are not a member of the Marley family.

Then what should you buy? If you do not know what to buy maybe you should start off with a Sativa strain – these strains give a more uplifting high. If you plan to do other things during your stay in Amsterdam than just be stoned (which is nice but you know, it would be nice to also do expand your view of the city a bit). Indica’s on the other hand are a lot stronger.

As a general advice we would say that shops more centrally located are spoiled from the all year long tourism stream, and have become greedy. This results in their products not always being of top quality, and their prices are obviously higher than in the other parts of town. The more you are moving out of the center the more the prices are going low. Also, the shops offer better quality and a more relaxed atmosphere. It is always a good idea to ask the locals where to buy weed and what to buy. Trust the locals – they know better.

In the coffeshops you can either buy “Joints” with cannabis and tobacco and “pure joints” (most rare to find). The pure joints cost often double. As it is always better to know what you buy, we would suggest you never buy pre-rolled joints; the reason for that is that often the content is not what it is supposed to be. The paradox is that in the coffeeshops although you can smoke weed you are not allowed to smoke normal (tobacco) cigarettes. How normal is that!

So which coffeeshop to choose from, as there are dozens in the city centre? Ok, here are some choices: Barney’s have nice food to combine your high experience, Katsu has a relaxed atmosphere and a nicely explained menu, plus they always offer help when trying to decide. Greenhouse consistently sells high potency stuff and many stoners choose this coffeeshop for their shopping. Grey Area is another friendly place to smoke bongs and have a nice cup of organic coffee.

A matter of properties

Although coffeeshops have menus, It is not always easy to choose and some times you can get lost in translation. It might helped to know some of the properties of indica, sativa and hybrid strains.