≡ Menu

No More Marijuana in Amsterdam for Tourists

New Dutch laws to make selling cannabis to foreigners in cafes illegal What is one of the main attributes of visiting Amsterdam for a traveler? Why, the cannabis cafes, where you can get good hash and smoke it legally in a public setting. Simply put, smoking pot in Dutch cafes is a novelty for most [...]

Amsterdam coffee shop
Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

New Dutch laws to make selling cannabis to foreigners in cafes illegal

What is one of the main attributes of visiting Amsterdam for a traveler? Why, the cannabis cafes, where you can get good hash and smoke it legally in a public setting. Simply put, smoking pot in Dutch cafes is a novelty for most tourists, and, for the tourism industry, novelty is the name of the game.

But the Dutch appear to be putting an end to this long honed traveler tradition, as they have taken measures to make cannabis cafes “locals only.” Soon, any person who is not Dutch will not be able to legally enter an establishment that serves marijuana, the Cheech and Chong days of traveling to Amsterdam to get high are clearly long gone. The Netherlands has lost one of its major tourist attractions.

A million British tourists visit Amsterdam each year, but a big draw for a considerable number will vanish if the Dutch justice minister goes ahead with plans to ban foreigners from buying cannabis in the country’s famous coffee shops. –Marijuana cafes could close to foreigners

For a country to construct a different set of laws for foreigners and to limit the rights of people on the basis of their nationality alone is the musings of fascism. To disallow foreigners to partake in an otherwise legal activity in the Netherlands is a slap in the face to any potential visitor. Foreigners being called out as a separate legal entity in a country is a major step towards xenophobia, an illness that Europe has long suffered from which is beginning to raise its ugly head again en masse. When European governments start separating the people of their countries into “us” and “them” dichotomies, recent history tells me that I should stay far, far away.

By restricting their customers to citizens of the Netherlands, Maastricht is violating European Union laws on free movement and free trade, argue coffee-shop owners who depend on pot-craving travelers for a share of their business. But the EU court’s advocate general, Yves Bot, said that the rules did not apply in this case, since marijuana is illegal in every country in the EU save Holland. –Dutch city bans foreigners smoking marijuana

This is just another step in Europe’s current drive to seemingly make  itself less and less attractive for the foreign traveler and to solidify its nationalistic tendencies.  Not only do tourists need to work around the fact that they are now only given 90 days to travel in  25 European countries, the sky rocketing prices of accommodation in hostels, but now they cannot even numb their discontent in a good old Amsterdam cannabis cafe.

Cannabis coffee shop in Amsterdam

It won’t be long until the travelers of the world start skipping right over Europe as a backpacking destination. As I say, there is a whole world out there, and Europe is just a small corner of it. If a country is going to rig up laws to make travel difficult, more expensive, or less enjoyable for me, then I am just going to travel somewhere else.

Photo from Wikipedia cannabis cafe


The only way I can continue my travels and publishing this blog is by generous contributions from readers. If you can, please subscribe for just $5 per month:


If you like what you just read, please sign up for our newsletter!
* indicates required
Filed under: Europe, Netherlands, Politics

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3706 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: New York City

11 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • Mackenzie November 27, 2010, 5:39 am

    Not that I don’t believe you, but do you have a source for this you can link to?

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com November 27, 2010, 3:37 pm

      There are links to sources published all through this article.

      Link Reply
  • Mackenzie November 28, 2010, 8:19 am

    My bad!

    Link Reply
  • the candy trail ... | Michael Robert Powell December 9, 2010, 1:13 pm

    Shit … lucky I’m only interested in the hookers & coke … 🙂

    Regards – MRP | the candy trail … a crazy across the planet, since 330 BC

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com December 9, 2010, 5:45 pm

      It is my impression that a lot of travelers are going to have to start looking for some new hobbies in Amsterdam, thanks for naming a couple haha.

      Link Reply
  • Zablon Mukuba February 11, 2011, 7:16 am

    what next they will close the red light district

    Link Reply
  • James March 29, 2011, 4:08 pm

    Great, so we can just go back to the days of shady dealers in alleys with crappy herb and crime rates going up! Awesome!

    Link Reply
  • Bryan July 30, 2011, 9:30 am

    The present government in the Netherlands has announced a ban on the “coffee -shops” ( cannabis cafes) for everyone – dutch residents included. Date for said ban not announced yet as far as I know.

    Link Reply
  • Bryan July 30, 2011, 9:37 am

    Excuse me for not including some links .
    Dutch language site :

    English language Dutch new :


    As i quit many decades ago I’m not personnaly bothered yet passing on the news to up date the original article on this website

    Link Reply
  • vino August 17, 2011, 12:12 am

    Yes its a discrace i have been visiting Amsterdam for the past 10 years and have visited a lot of attractions aswell as smoke my bit of green at night some people drink but i dont i just like a joint at night to be discriminated because i am from another country is a discrace at this day and age some one sould look up our rights and bring it to the supreme court i am sure it could be over ruled but it would take a lot of protesting in amsterdam by the people look at all the jobs been lost aswell i cant believe it

    Link Reply
  • Oliveira patrick October 1, 2021, 2:30 pm

    So is this real, i been there a few years ago,, and smoked some joint mixed with tabaco, the yare not selling the good staff then?

    Link Reply

Next post:

Previous post: