If you’re looking to buy weed in Amsterdam, here’s a valuable piece of info: don’t do it in the tourist sections of town. You’ll end up paying up to three times what you will in places that are a 15-minute stroll away. Walk into a coffee shop and ask to see a menu. The proprietors are there to help. Ask for advice. Order a drink and take a seat, or shoot some pool. Don’t be a dick about it. And if you opt for the space cake, make sure you can get to a safe place within the hour.
Illustrating the ins and outs of buying weed at coffee shops might be fruitless; the Dutch government has introduced legislation that would ban tourists from coffee shops by the end of the year, making the locations available only to Dutch citizens who purchase a yearly “weed pass.” The Netherlands seems to have questioned the more lascivious aspects of its identity over the past decade or so, and more crackdowns seem imminent. It’s a tough sell to the tourism industry, which obviously relies pretty heavily on international traffic from more restrictive nations, but the government is arguing that the ban will fight drug trafficking at the borders.
I don’t really have strong opinions on drug legalization. I will say that I’ve maybe smoked more pot over the past few weeks than the rest of my life combined (almost daily), and I feel like I have a better understanding of the way it fits into a certain lifestyle. I don’t know that it’s a lifestyle I’d choose, though it seems to be one that doesn’t do much harm beyond fostering excessive laziness and hunger and an inability to pay attention to conversations. I’ll admit I’ve grown to appreciate the way a toke before bed can soothe the head space and facilitate slumber. It also nearly makes “Troll 2” watchable. But I’m willing to leave it here.
The coffee shops are like any other establishment – some are good, some are bad. Whether you’re looking for cheesy ’80s new wave and aggressive neon light fixtures, or just a chill place to sit down and take in the serenity of a nearby canal at sunset, coffee shops run the gamut of atmosphere and clientele. Check out the Spirit on Westerstraat, or Amnesia on Herengracht. Aim for the small, quaint places away from all the central-city craziness. And do it while there’s still time.