So you hit Amsterdam to do a spot of, well, smoking, and are already guffawing at the mere thought of doing it in public, when it hits you…. the same smoking ban that might rule with iron fist in your country, will also put a spoiler on the bars of Amsterdam…This is after all Europe.
So what now? Will the pleasures of smoking a joint out and in the open force you out on the pavements and the parks? What if you don’t like that? What if the weather is bad? How can this be?
Might you be able to sneak your dope into the shisha lounges? What dreadful times we live in! How have you been able to cope in the UK for so long already? Should you be joining some sort of hippie guerilla force to ensure Amsterdam is liberated of this intolerant European yoke?
Stop! Hold your horses! Relax! This is Amsterdam! There are ways around this issue. Yes, there is a smoking ban in cafes and bars, which went into effect on the same date as it kicked off in the UK; July 1st 2008.
For the record; there have been measurable positive effects since that date in terms of infant health… So, first off, don’t baulk too much. But since you want to smoke dope, let me inform you about that. In Amsterdam, joints with a zero tobacco content are not covered by the smoking ban.
Smoking of water pipes (shishas, hookas), vaporizers and joints filled with pure weed is condoned. The larger coffeeshops have even instituted separate smoking chambers. It is also helpful to know that the Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit (the food health and safety authorities) are not authorised to check joints for their contents… So the city’s status as a haven for smokers of all kinds is still rock solid.
Stuffig a bit of tobacco in a joint is no bad idea anyway – trust me, it’s safer than getting stoned way out of your skull way too fast. Plus there’s a great tobacco replacement called Hoefblad (Petasites Habitus), which is very suitable for mixing with hemp. Ask around, you’ll find it.
Smoking bars are united on the SmokingBars website which lists all the establishments in Amsterdam and further afield where you can smoke when you’re out on a Saturday night. As I said, this is merely a list of cafes where you can smoke normal cigarettes, but I would imagine that if you took the Amsterdam component of this collection of smokers’ dens, you’d find plenty of places where joints are the common fare.
The list reveals only if you can smoke in a particular establishment, not whether these are license holders in the cafe business. Enter at your own risk!
The same counts for the many shisha bars in town. They frequently ignore the rules and regulations, which has made the police slightly more vigilant off late. That however also directly impacts the policy for assigning new licenses for these bars, which are increasingly popular, despite the well publicised fact that shisha tobacco is up to seven times more harmful to the human body than regular tobacco.
The Telegraaf newspaper reported recently that there’s not even any clarity about how many shisha bars are actually in existence, which also is indicative of how relaxed things are in Amsterdam. Apparently the number is several hundreds but that’s definitely give and take a few dozen.
So there you have it; pretty much any type of smoker is welcome in Amsterdam.