It’s important to know what is legal when using cannabis/ marijuana/ weed in the Netherlands, and more specifically in Maastricht. Many students are not fully aware of the drug laws.
What is legal
Cannabis is legal in designated smoking areas (coffee shops) and having up to five grams on you for personal use is decriminalised (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.
This means it is illegal for you to smoke a joint in the park. If you’ve ever walked through the Stadspark on a summer evening, you’ll know that a lot of people either don’t know that it is illegal or are choosing to flout the law. Either way, it might be a better idea to stay inside.
Dutch Law decriminalises 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 number of plants.
Decriminalised vs Legalised
There is a big difference between decriminalised and legalised. Weed is “decriminalised” which just means that the authorities will normally look the other way. However, it does not mean that weed is legal. A little confusing, but to quote the student contact officer: “It’s not allowed to have any kind of drugs, not even soft drugs or 5 plants. If you only have 5 grams of weed or 5 plants, then you won’t get a fine. This is the difference between decriminalised and illegal- it can and will be confiscated, but you won’t need to pay a fine.”
Coffeeshops in Maastricht
The individual provinces of the Netherlands are allowed to choose their own policies related to Cannabis. If you want weed in Maastricht, you can go to a coffee shop if you can provide proof of residence. This rule was put in place to stop drug tourism from Belgium and the Netherlands.
You can get a proof of residence card at the municipality; it is called ‘Afschrift van gegevens uit de basisregistratie personen‘ (or in 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. Don’t have a DigID? Find how to get one here.
It is also possible to use your certificate of enrollment with the University in combination with a picture-ID instead of the BRP. It might also be a good idea to take along a letter like a bank statement or gas bill that shows you live in the city. Just your UM card isn’t enough, as it doesn’t prove that you are currently enrolled with the University. If you want more official information, check out this website from the Dutch Government.
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 file a public report.