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 hemp products (soft drugs, specifically hashish and marijuana). Possession, dealing, sale, production and most other acts involving any drug are punishable by law, unless performed for medical, veterinary, instructional or scientific purposes (and then only on permission). So bringing drugs into a club or a bar is also prohibited. You’ll 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!
People who sell drugs on the streets are probably the biggest tourist trap.
Whatever you do, don’t buy drugs from them. 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.
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.
Check www. unity.nl/testing for locations and opening hours.
Not feeling well?
Many 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’s time.
Dutch marijuana generally contains more THC than the dope sold in other countries. Its THC content can also vary greatly. If you’ve taken more drugs than you can deal with, 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 accident and emergency deparment 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.
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:
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 intercourse, make sure you wear one. Drug and alcohol 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. That is possible here! 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)
- Be safe, don’t drink and drive – or do 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 risks for marijuana, magic mushrooms or alcohol: https://www.jellinek.nl/tourists/
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.
Harm reduction projects
Here’s a list of projects we collaborate with. Most of them have information about the risks of alcohol and other drugs and how to reduce them on their website.European Project:
Crew2000 is a Scottish organization that specializes in information on drugs, harm reduction and sexual health. CREW2000 doesn’t convict or encouraged use, but understands that if people have more information about the effects and risks of drugs, it reduces the risk of accidents bu the people who still take the decision.
During the year the CREW2000 team visits festivals and parties throughout the country where they provide information and offer (small) medical assistance. At these events hundreds of people are helped and informed so that the pressure is reduced for the party organizer and medical services. This helps visitors stay safer. During these festivals there are also surveys conducted to monitor drug trends.
Energy Control was founded in Barcelona in 1997. They are the Spanish pioneer in the field of reducing risks in recreational use of drugs. They also offer a testing service to inform users about the composition of their drugs and advice on their use. This service has existed since 1999, but is now also offered internationally (for a fee). In addition, they go to parties and festivals to provide peer-to-peer education. They have a branch in Madrid and one in Barcelona.
Check! N is a Portuguese foundation established in 2006. The project calls for the right to have fun, both independently as informed and make wise choices without being judged. The organization is active in parties where they provide harm reduction information about psychoactive drugs and safe sex. Activities undertaken include oral educate and flyers that provide information on resources and STDs, handing out condoms, drug testing and deal in drug-related crisis situations (‘bad trips’).
Techno + was founded in 1995 from within the techno scene in France. It focuses mainly on France, but occasionally they also work at major events outside France. The organization consists entirely of volunteers.
With the foundation of the organization it was discovered that there was a lot of misinformation about drugs out there that can cause serious health damage, but there was very little accurate information available for this group. Having access to this information improve the user’s ability to make wise choices regarding substance usage. Since then the organization has been working on spreading good and correct information among as many possible users in the techno scene.
Techno + is thus born from a need in the scene and lack of information. Since then, policies have been redesigned to reduce the risks of recreational drug use. They are now aimed at providing information, own responsibility of the user and it does not prohibit drugs or suppress users.
DrugScouts is a drugs education project that is particularly geared towards harm reduction. The main goals of the project are: provide information on festivals, counseling of drug users, providing information on drugs and harm reduction via mail, Internet, flyers, telephone and face-to-face.
Safe ‘n Sound was created from two regional peer support / harm reduction projects in nightlife: Vital Sounds in East and West Flanders, and Break Line in Antwerp. In 2015 both projects fused together and the scope was extended to the whole of Flanders.
Safe ‘n Sound is there for visitors to events, festivals and clubs in the electronic dance scene. At these sites you will find our peers in the Safe ‘n Sound-information booth. You can find information about alcohol and other recreational drugs. That is how we try to help lower the risks of those that use or are thinking about using.
CheckIt! is a collaboration between Sucht Hilfe Wien GmbH and the Institute for Labormedizin Klinisches of the General Hospital in Vienna. They focus mainly on testing drugs. But also inform via their website including data on drug and reduction of the risks that come with it.
DAT2 team of volunteers visit goa / psytrance parties and festivals to raise awareness about drugs. They provide vitamins, drinking water, salty snacks, glucose, information and more. Psychological counseling, assistance with psychedelic (emergency) situations (‘bad trips’) spiritual crises and discussions on serious life issues are also given.
DrogArt is a foundation established in 1999 with the main objective to minimize risks of drug and alcohol use among young people. The main activities are the provision of information and advice and doing workshops, research and fieldwork at electronic music events. The core values of DrogArt are cooperation, assistance, development, education and training.
United States of America
DanceSafe is a public health organization that works to promote health and safety in the night life and the electronic music scene. They are set up in the Bay Area in San Francisco in 1998. Dance Safe quickly grew into a national organization with branches in several major cities. They focus on harm reduction and peer-to-peer information on festivals, but also have an active online community that creates awareness of potential dangers of drugs in various social media with their Visionaries program. They also have an opportunity to test ecstasy through the program in collaboration with Erowid.org ecstasydata.org.
An interview about the Kosmicare, the official harm reduction project created by the Boom Festival.
Nowadays it is a partnership between Boom Festival, SICAD (governmental organization) and Faculdade de Psicologia da Universidade Católica do Porto.