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What is legal in Amsterdam - The Red Light District Amsterdam Guide - discover the secrets!
This is the book you should read before you visit the Red Light District!

What is legal in Amsterdam

Date: 7. jul 2018.
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The Netherlands has a special policy for the soft drugs although they are illegal. The prostitution is legal within the certain rules. With their history of practicality and compromise, the Dutch have created a whole new world for tourists craving tolerance and brush with the forbidden. We are not saying that other countries do not have prostitution, homosexuality and recreational drugs but the Dutch had decided to deal with these matters in a pragmatic way.

The large number of tourists is visiting Amsterdam with the idea of smoking marijuana in the public during their Amsterdam tour. The idea of smoking marijuana in front of passing policeman makes it simply irresistible. Before you travel to Amsterdam you should know that the Dutch are a people of rules and laws and they have a very interesting approach to certain issues where the official policy is to look the other way.

The recreational drugs are illegal in the Netherlands, even marijuana. But they have the official policy of tolerance that had started in 1976 when the Dutch parliament decriminalized possession of fewer than 5 grams of cannabis. What followed these events is the creation of unique establishments found only in this country. The Coffee shops were created, that should not be confused with the cafes where you actually go to have coffee. You are visiting the coffee shops primarily for purchasing and consuming marijuana or hash. In fact, the Coffee shops are the only place where you can legally purchase and smoke marijuana or hash. Smoking in public is strictly forbidden and also the possession of soft drugs. But if the police find up to 5 grams (which is the considered the amount for personal use) they will cease it and you will be free to go. If they find more than 5 grams you will be fined and risking a prison sentence.

There is no special policy on the hard drugs, they are strictly forbidden. You are not allowed to own or use the hard drugs anywhere in the Netherlands. Use of hard drugs is banned in the Coffee shops. If you do that, you will be thrown out, probably banned from Coffee Shops and sentenced.

The things got complicated for Coffee Shops in 2008 with the imposed restrictions on smoking in public places. The Coffee Shop owners complained that this restriction will put them out of business. The Dutch compromising ensued. Today, you can’t smoke cigarettes in the Coffee Shop, but you can freely smoke marijuana.

All non-medical drugs are illegal. Only the cannabis and some types of mushrooms for recreational use are in separate class, still illegal, but largely tolerated. The strongest types of the magic mushrooms that contain psilocybin are proclaimed illegal in 2008, but the authorities won’t prosecute anyone holding very small quantities. Hash is also in the gray area, and the rules are different in different municipalities.

Recently, the conservative government had announced that they are planning to stem the drug tourism, mostly because of the friction with the neighboring countries. Under these new rules, the Coffee shops would issue so-called “Weed passes” only to local residence. Foreigners would not be able to come to the Netherlands to get high.

But since 90% of the customers in Coffee Shops are foreign it was clear that it would take a huge financial toll. After a debate, the government rewrote the law, living it to each city to decide on the rules. Amsterdam scrapped it, and the tourists can freely visit and use the “services” of the Coffee Shops. Maastricht and other border cities started using the “weed passes”.

Prostitution is legal in Netherlands since 2000 but within the set of rules. Prostitutes have to obtain the work permits and enjoy the protection of the country’s labor laws. Prostitution for the minors is strictly forbidden.

The Netherlands was the first country to fully legalize same-sex marriage. In 2001, the world’s first same- sex ceremony was conducted by then Mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen. There is a condition that one of the partners has to be a Dutch resident.

There are also a few rules regarding the cycling. You are not obligated to wear a helmet by law, and almost no one does. However, you are required to have a light and a bell on your bicycle. You have to be sure to stay off the bike lanes if you are walking. The uses of cell phone in the car is illegal and also note that if you hit a person on the bicycle, no matter what really happened, the Dutch law always places the responsibility on the driver of the car. So, if you are planning to go to a Coffee Shop or a Smart Shop better not drive a car or even a bicycle.