It is important to inform you about the legal situation of cannabis in the Netherlands, and more specifically in Maastricht. Many students are not fully aware of the drug laws. The possession of cannabis is legal in designated smoking areas (i.e. coffee shops) and having up to five grams on you for personal use is decriminalized (i.e. it is tolerated by the authorities). It is illegal to have more than 5 grams or to smoke in places other than your own home or the designated coffee shops.
Dutch Law decriminalizes the cultivation of small amounts (up to five plants per household) but most landlords will clearly state that it is not allowed on their property. A new law introduced in early 2015 makes selling growing equipment and offering growing services illegal. This means that the police will take away plants, if they find any, regardless of the amount of plants.
Important is the differentiation between decriminalized and legalized, because they do not imply the same; to quote the student contact officer: “It’s not allowed to have any kind of drugs. Not even soft drugs or 5 plants. Till 5 grams of weed or 5 plants you don’t get a fine. It can and will be confiscated, the difference is that you won’t get a fine. Sometimes students ask me why I confiscate drugs because they think it is allowed. It’s not allowed, it can be confiscated but you won’t get a fine.”
The individual provinces of the Netherlands are allowed to choose their own policies related to Cannabis. Maastricht has decided to allow its inhabitants to visit coffee shops if they are in possession of a proof of residence. This proof of residence can be obtained at the municipality and is called a ‘Afschrift van gegevens uit de basisregistratie personen‘ (or short: BRP). This document grants you access to the coffee shops that are still open in Maastricht. If you have a DigID you can also request this document online. Since recently it is also possible to show your certificate of enrollment with the University and a picture-ID instead of the BRP. Be aware that the UM card is insufficient, because it doesn’t proof that you are currently enrolled with the University.
Hard drugs like cocaine or MDMA are not tolerated anywhere in the Netherlands. If the police find hard drugs on you they will confiscate them immediately. You may be arrested and the police will be sure to file a public report. Despite police discouragement hard drug use exists among students in Maastricht.