Info for tourists
Information for our partyfriends from abroad
Welcome to the Netherlands! The country which is known for its windmills, tulips, canals, wooden shoes, but also for being liberal, having a tolerant drug policy and one of its biggest export products: electronic dance music, which, of course, is accompanied by major dance events. Like with a marathon, it doesn’t hurt to prepare a bit. Keep these tips in mind and read the information on Dutch drug policy and you’ll have an unforgettable party, and one you can actually remember and talk about with your friends afterwards!
In this video you’ll find all you need to know about our drug law, drug checking, door policy, first aid and drug potency. Enjoy!
Dutch drug policy
The Netherlands is known for its tolerant policies on drugs. Many people don’t realise that drugs are officially illegal in the Netherlands. Understanding Dutch drug policy can save you a lot of problems.
Since 1976 the narcotics act has distinguished between drugs that pose unacceptable risks to public health (hard drugs like heroin, cocaine, ecstacy and amphetamines) and drugs that acceptable risks (soft drugs, specifically hashish and marijuana). Possession, dealing, sale, production, import, export and most other acts involving any drug are punishable by law, unless performed for medical, veterinary, instructional or scientific purposes (and then only with permission). So bringing drugs into a club or a bar is also prohibited. You’ll often be searched by security at the entrance. If you’re found to be carrying drugs, you could be handed over to police. At dance events, plainclothes security agents may be walking around to spot people taking drugs.
The Dutch government has formulated a drug policy that tolerates cannabis smoking under strict conditions. It is permitted in coffeeshops. You must be 18 years of age to enter a coffeeshop and your ID will be checked. In some regions, non-residents are not allowed to buy cannabis. Visitors should keep in mind that most venues other than coffeeshops do not allow soft drugs to be consumed on their premises. In other words, you may not smoke cannabis at events, in clubs or bars, even in smoking areas.
Make sure you check the house policy!
Drug potency in The Netherlands
If you buy drugs in the Netherlands, you should be keenly aware that the potency of the drugs can differ a great deal from the strength of drugs in your own country. In other words, you never know how strong your purchased drugs will be. If you are trying drugs for the first time or don’t have much experience, be extra careful. We advise you to take a lower dose than you would take in your home country.
Even though possession of drugs is illegal in the Netherlands, it IS possible to get your drugs tested anonymously at an official drug checking service.
If you are staying in The Netherlands for more than a week, you can get your drugs tested anonymously at one of the drug testing services. Drugs you submit to them are analysed in a laboratory. For some pills such as ecstasy which can be matched to those in our database, you can get the results on the same day. Also the drug checking services in Amsterdam have the option to test MDMA, amphetamine and ketamine immediately. Which means you often don’t have to wait for the results.
Find locations and opening hours here.
People who sell drugs on the streets are probably the biggest tourist trap.
Whatever you do, don’t buy their drugs. The stuff they offer you can contain anything from vitamin C or washing powder to very dangerous substances. If you are being harassed by a drug dealer on the streets, please help yourself and our city by reporting this to the police. This has no juridical consequences for you but can really help making our cities more safe.
Be smart. Be safe. Ignore streetdealers.
Prepare & be at your best!
- Sleep to reset your mind, make sure you’ve had enough sleep before you attend a party
- Eat to resupply your energy levels. It is especially important to eat well in advance, but also during and after the party. Antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids are very healthy and ensure a faster recovery. If you have trouble eating, drink a smoothie.
- Bring condoms and if you choose to have sex, make sure you wear one. Alcohol and other drug use can impair your judgment on safe sex practices.
- If you’re planning to stay longer in the Netherlands, you should have your drugs tested. However, you can only have drugs samples tested which are bought in the Netherlands. Take a look at www.drugs-test.nl to see where you can have your drugs tested. Please note that it may take a week before you get the results of your test.
Party! Think for yourself, care about others
- Listen to your body, and to your brain
- Know what you can and cannot handle
- Be careful how you spend your energy. If you attend a party with an organized coach tour and you will be staying at the party for over 10 hours, you should ration. You don’t have to party hard right from the beginning. Take it easy and keep in mind that you still have a full day or night of partying to go. Take breaks and chill out.
- Think for yourself, care about others. Stay together.
- Make sure you’re surrounded by people you trust
- Drink enough water to prevent dehydration, but don’t drink too much; drinking too much water may cause water poisoning – two cups of water per hour is plenty, especially when you’re on Ecstasy!
- Use earplugs to protect your ears
- Be aware of how alcohol and other drugs can make you more careless
- Be aware of how your enthusiasm can do the same
- Try not to give in to the temptation of drinking too much alcohol
- Take breaks from dancing. Even if you have lots of energy, take a break, sit down, and relax for a while (in the shade, if you’re in the sun all day at a festival).
- Keep an eye out for your friends, but don’t let them talk you into things you don’t agree with
- Talk with your friends: make agreements & inform each other
- Support others if they don’t feel well, but try not to make it worse by freaking out about it (usually a break in a more quiet place away from the dancefloor and with some refreshing water works best)
Not feeling well?
Some people get so ill from their first experiences with cannabis that they phone the emergency number 112 and summon an ambulance. They may feel panicked or nauseous; they fear they’ll never get better. If you feel like that, you should first find a quiet place and eat something (sweet). Usually the worst will be over within an hour.
Dutch marijuana generally contains more THC than the weed sold in other countries. Its THC content can also vary greatly. If you’ve taken too much or feel ill, consult coffeeshop or club staff or first aid professionals (at large events, look for the EHBO stand) or phone 112.
For serious alcohol- or drug-related emergencies, you should get to a hospital emergency department immediately.
Although possession of both hard and soft drugs is illegal in the Netherlands, it is not against the law to TAKE drugs. Always be honest about your drug consumption when you’re at an emergency department so they will know exactly what treatment you need. Your health is the most important thing. Doctors will not hand you over to the police.
- Be safe, don’t drink and drive – don’t drugs and drive.
- Take a good night’s sleep; rest well.
- You’ll recover much more quickly by eating healthy food.
More information about reducing the risks of certain substances, see the individual substances (f.e. XTC, cannabis, cocaine and alcohol).
Unity & Celebrate Safe
Celebrate Safe and Unity joined hands in spreading their message across a much larger part of the nightlife community.
Celebrate Safe is an industry wide campaign. Already supported by 98 organizers, events and clubs in the Netherlands.
To the Celebrate Safe partners, their visitor’s health and safety are of utmost importance. Extensive partying comes with certain risks and Celebrate Safe is a platform that provides tips and reliable information about reducing these risks.
Check out our video on how to celebrate safe at festivals:
Unity is the alcohol/drugs harm reduction project in the Dutch party scene .
You are welcome for a chat with one of our volunteers. We will be happy to talk to you and give you advice if you have a problem. Visit us if you have any questions about drugs, or if you want to test your knowledge of drugs.
Check here below for similar alcohol/drugs harm- reduction projects for the party scene in your own country.