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Odd question - cannabis

by goodfish Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 5:59 AM

This is really a question for Americans who have previously visited Amsterdam....
My husband and I are considering a trip to the city next year and we must be two of the few who have no interest in the coffee shops. It's not a moral issue at all - it's just that random US workplace testing and the questionable wisdom of befuddling one's brain in unfamiliar surroundings will have us pursing other forms of recreation. We DO, however, drink coffee - and lots of it.

So, my question is: have any of you (users or not) had any issues with the customs process once back in the states? Our last experience, after returning from Italy via Amsterdam, was a nightmare of questions, searches and being thoroughly sniffed over by drug-searching canines with very sensitive noses. I'm concerned about a suitcase full of clothing that could likely smell faintly of cannabis if we'd been in the shops for nothing more than a cuppa joe! What about bars (we'd do a few of those too) - is smoking legal there? Let's just say that I'd like to do whatever possible to avoid a potentially longer, even more painful customs process than we had last time! They even gave me heck for not declaring the remainder of a package of Lifesavers I'd bought, at our local airport, BEFORE we left! Unbelievable.

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23 Answers
  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by jumpingnorman Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 6:30 AM

    I have flown in from Amsterdam several times but so far, had no problems in customs. But I did have a problem once when I arrived back from Bogota, Colombia and I actually missed my connecting flight because they reopened my luggage and checked everything....US Customs is tough and a lot of times, they just pick people randomly...

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by leics Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 6:47 AM

    I am not American but hope I can offer a bit of useful info.

    No smoking of is allowed in enclosed workplaces, so you need not be concerned about bars etc. There may be a separate room for smokers, or not.

    'Coffee-shops' will have made their own arrangements re rooms.

    You don't have to go into that sort of 'coffee-shop' to get a coffee, by the way. You'll find plenty of places which sell coffee without any extras. I don't think your clothes will smell of cannabis unless you spend ages in a 'coffee-shop' every day.

    As for customs, I'm sure the same applies as in the UK: it's random, but arrivals from particular places may be of more interest than others.

    But if you haven't got anything with you, then you have nothing to worry about anyway.

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  • footstool's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by footstool Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 6:50 AM

    Miss Fish, I too am an American. I did go to Amsterdam in June 2008, and I did go to 2 different coffee shops. I'm also a former pot smoker! Why did I do it? Because everyone asks, "oooo, did you go to a smoke shop? Ooo la la!," with raised eyebrows. Frankly it was a stark unremarkable experience, reminding me of when I used to smoke, all alone, in an attic, parking lot, etc. I left before I got a contact high. The reputation of the Red Light District is similarly overblown and sensationalized. You probably got unlucky, drawing a gung-ho Customs Agent, that's all. Maybe he was bucking for a promotion? Were you wearing a Bob Marley T shirt? (I'm joking, of course). You are overly concerned, so IMHO stick to a Starbucks. Rent a bike and enjoy the Dam, Miss Fish!

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by goodfish Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 7:50 AM

    "Miss Fish" - that's hilarious, John.
    Ok, I figured it was a dumb question but one worth asking. Could be that, to some over-zealous customs agents, having Amsterdam noted anywhere on your tickets is a red flag. Honestly, we had NO issues with customs in Italy, Amsterdam or London the few times we've left the country, but getting back into the US has been another story. Maybe it's just Mpls/St. Paul International's issue - they act like the Gestapo. Also nice to know that we don't have to get those critical cups of morning brew at the pot stores if we don't want to. Thanks all.

    ("Miss Fish". I'm still laughing.)

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by leics Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 7:58 AM

    I think that, perhaps, arriving from Amsterdam may be more of a red flag to US customs agents than to those in Europe.

    But it's really just the luck of the draw.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by goodfish Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 8:11 AM

    You're probably right, Leics, but for some reason, we get pulled a lot. And as far we can tell, there's nothing very suspicious-looking about our very unremarkable, 54 year-old selves. Funny story though - we were pulled for a random at Gatwick but the very polite agents (unlike the bullies here) said they choose us because we looked like cheerful folks unlikely to put up a fuss. They did their work quickly, with humor, and we all had a good laugh.

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by leics Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 8:15 AM

    Even if the law is changed (not really likely, I think) it will not prevent the possibility of acquiring cannabis in Amsterdam (which is not actually legal anyway, merely 'tolerated' in certain situations) and importing cannabis into the US.

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by leics Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 8:17 AM

    As for being 'pulled' remember that customs agents etc have to demonstrate that their random 'pulls' are indeed random.

    Being the type of couple you are, you clearly fit a particulat profile which ticks a box on the 'random pull'list.

    I, as a single middle-aged female, no longer tick boxes. Have not been pulled for years and years. :-(

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by goodfish Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 8:22 AM

    Lucky you!

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  • unaS's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by unaS Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 9:02 AM

    As I remember it the 'coffee shops' are clearly marked and are NOT the place you go for a cup of coffee! There are lots of those too.

    I am also a mature woman that travels solo. When returning to Israel from Amsterdam had no problems at all, but when I returned from Bangkok I got pulled and fully checked! Funny that.

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by leics Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 9:05 AM

    You just ticked a box at the right time on the right day. :-)

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  • footstool's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by footstool Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 10:18 AM

    ooops It is MISSES Fish. Sorry! Remember, don't eat the "Space Cookies," or you'll test positive. You've been warned! lol

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by goodfish Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 5:17 PM

    OK, no Space Cookies! But what ARE they? Would I like them? Are they fun?
    Actually, Goodfish comes from my husband's nickname for me: Fishie, as in the guppy. I'm ridiculously trusting - tell me just about anything and I'll believe it. But even though I'm hopelessly gullible, he says I'm a good fish most of the time, whence the name. Miss, Ms, Misses, whatever...

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  • juliogg's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by juliogg Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 6:27 PM

    I think you probably fit a profile as "leics" mentioned. Also , if you ever see a tag or # that says C-12 on any of your belongings, then YOU are TAG'd. This US code mean "SEARCH COMPLETELY" and can go as far as "Herass". I would only be weary when returning from Amsterdam right after the "CANNABIS CUP" event.

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  • footstool's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by footstool Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 7:57 PM

    Ms. Fish, a space cookie is laced with hashish. It will make you very stoned, but without the smell of cannabis. If you like to be stoned, the space cookie gets you high AND gives you the munchies at the same time!

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  • Pijlmans's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by Pijlmans Online Now Oct 17, 2009 at 11:48 PM

    ...or make you throw up for a couple of hours...

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by leics Online Now Oct 18, 2009 at 12:06 AM

    Just in case you are worried, you will not be able to buy a hashish cake without being made aware of what it contains.

    Do not panic. No-one in Amsterdam will be giving you any hashish without your knowledge.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by goodfish Online Now Oct 18, 2009 at 6:03 AM

    No panic here - just curious. No, tossing my (space) cookies for hours does not seem like a real good use of vacation time so I'll pass. As mentioned before, Miss Fish here doesn't think it would be prudent to seriously mess up her head (or stomach) in unfamiliar territory so she'll be declining anything stronger than good Dutch or Belgium brewskis. Yum.

    Hmmmm - will have to look for evidence of being tagged when next we travel.

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  • footstool's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by footstool Online Now Oct 18, 2009 at 6:41 AM

    I want a full report, Miss Fish!

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  • GlobeTrekr's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by GlobeTrekr Online Now Oct 18, 2009 at 9:49 PM

    Puff, Puff, Pass says Puff the Magic Dragon!!!

    Enjoy Amsterdam.

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  • VikeGuru's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by VikeGuru Online Now Feb 10, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    I know this is 4 months late but I was curious, too. I went to Amsterdam before, on a long layover, and was scared out of my mind on return to JFK. I gave a coffee shop a try, stayed for an hour in there and then I thought about the customs in NY as we were halfway there. No problem. I think they probably know that many people may "indulge" when in AMS but as long as you don't have anything with you.

    Probably okay to "indulge" while there but probably not, for instance, on the cab ride to the airport. LOL.

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  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by pieter_jan_v Online Now Nov 12, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Kate,

    Funny to re-visit this thread!

    PJ

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Odd question - cannabis

    by goodfish Online Now Nov 12, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Blame it on the stroopwafel!

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