So we were lucky enough to have a 2 hour private tour with Marco from “Drugs Tour Amsterdam”, a tour group who are trying to give the low down on Amsterdam’s drug culture, both the myths and the reality. In fact I think they are the first, if only, tour group that offers this insight into the hot spots of the city including the Red Light District, and where topics include the history of Coffeeshops, what are the purpose of Heroin Users Rooms, how the police and other instutions help in the quality control and testing of illegal drugs, the religion of the Ayahuasca Church, a look at Absinthe and Van Gogh, and basic information of all the rest! Participants will also learn about the positive social implications and effective results in decreasing cannabis and hard drugs consumption of the Dutch drugs policy. The tour is informative, educational and fun. Marco, our guide, showed us around the centre of Amsterdam pointing out key landmarks and cultural reference points with regards drugs/alcohol/and the sex trade.
The History of the Red Light Zone
Amsterdam was born as a city as an international port, actually there was, with London actually with the British Empire, was one of the big empire that was going back and forth. Was born as a crossing ways and actually of course there are Sailors, with money started with prostitution.
You remember the church where we found where we met, this is called the Oude Kerk that means Old church and it has been built there in order to stop prostitution
It didn’t work!
(So prostitution was there first!)
Yes, yes the prostitute was here first and they try to make this church in order to bring some decent life and they failed totally
(So they had lots of randy priests running around the place?)
Now is came the best, on the 13th century they decided to make it legal and the prostitutes or the tenants had to go to the priest in order to have the extension from the sin for a certain period for example. You will be free of sin for one week, so for the week they could do everything because they were very catholic and of course they had to pay, yes we are talking about the Catholic Church.
(You kind of have to respect them for that, don’t you really!)
Actually I’m Italian so I have Catholicism in my vein and I hate it! Italy is a wonderful place with a big cancer inside that is called the city of Vatican. I love the pope but the church by itself is not good
(We understand. We are from Ireland so you don’t have to tell us, you don’t have to tell us!)
That’s true, actually I think that we are spoiled as well like you
Ok, ah yes, 13th century it become legal and actually this bring a new wave of using prostitution
First of all its not so bad the scene as in other countries
Here it’s normal, in fact here you can find during the Saturday morning, and the Sunday, and the Friday Saturday morning you can see even school that is passing by in the red-light because they have to spend one lesson about sexual stuff and so they check out the red lights, this within the cities, and they have to spend one lesson talking about drugs in the schools. So you can see sometimes the school
The fact that now its so clean and everything is perfect is because they started to show everything.
All these girls are self-employed, they pay about from 50 to 150 of rent for one day, 8 hours of window, and normally you pay from 50 to 70 euro for what they call Suck and fuck, I mean 15 minutes because they are very good in 15 minutes they are done!
Blowjob and a fuck normally with a brown (?). you have always to contract the price when you get in.
Suck and fuck maybe they are totally covered and you can not take pictures and there is a very intense security system. You see all these windows , at the back of the window there is a corridor that connects with other rooms. If they hear some scream, or she hit a hidden button, arise immediately Two or three giant men, they send you out.
In fact if you pay for the night sometimes you are yahh (drunk and angry), people like that and If they are sent out from here normally they finish in the canal!
(So do they have to pay a tax to the government?)
Yes of course. They pay taxes and actually taxes of marijuana, and taxes of prostitution are two big revenues, especially the Amsterdam city and that’s why these places are not closed. Because they makes a lot of money
There are girls that come here for making 6 to 8 months of prostitution and then they pay 5 years of university because if you think 50 minutes, lets have 3 clients per hour, 8 hours is 150 per 8 hours is already 1000 in a day
(And there is tax on this?)
Yes of course, but even taxes, because as you have costs. Ok you can say I have done ten customers, inside you have 30. Its like the coffee shop, the coffee shop as well, they pay taxes but there is no registry. And I will explain you later how it works. But in the register they can say I just sold one kilos of weed, in fact they sold 3 kilos. Because there is no register of whose coming they can sell whatever they want. But since its working good for the society….
(What do the ordinary Amsterdam people think of all this?)
Actually Its normal, its like a a sign on the corner, because its perfectly normal and its normal for example to have a neighbour that is a hooker
Here in fact, this thing I was telling you about that a drug user is not seen as a criminal. It works even for prostitutes. They are making maybe an uncomfortable job, but not a dirty job , like in all the other places. And With the systems, ok you have people who of course here there is lots of noise, people yahha, horny and back, but this way I don’t know how it is on your places but In Italy prostitution is not legal but you find hookers on the road. People who stop on the verge of the road have accident, have public disturbance and everything and this absolutely brings more criminality.
This way of course I think there are some of them are spoiled or exploited by some other people but almost 70% of the prostitutes here are here for their will not because they have been imported and forced to prostitution
(It’s the best of what you can do, I guess)
(What percentage are from the Netherlands?)
Actually from this point of view don’t really know because there is no registry, they have the guilds….but they give you no information
Some ideas in your country, Here are totally normal
(I guess with this kind of system, like with the shops closing, the situation can change very quickly, all the time?)
Yes, even the windows are under the supervision of the major that can reduce or enlarge the Red light district on his will, just enough that he just when a window finishes a license he doesn’t renew it. So in fact there was a lot more windows around here. Now if you go later will make a round when you come back one of my favourite spots because there are models
(Yeah, yeah, will I stop recording will I?)
You are married??????
Meanwhile I smoke a cigarette?
(Only cigarettes, those things will kill you, tobacco, that’s the worst!)
Yes I know but its one of the things I cannot quit, tobacco, weed and girls
Ok coffeeshops, I told you in 1976 the Netherlands decided to make this division
Hard drugs and Soft drugs and for the soft drugs they created these places that are called coffeeshops, you can in these places was and is allowed to consume and sell weed
While outside in the city is not absolutely allowed or permitted to sell or consume weed
Here In the centre of Amsterdam if you go around with a joint in the street they don’t tell you nothing because you are in the centre of duke
Just go in another place or just outside Amsterdam with a joint, if you cross the cops they stop you, they give you a fine because you are not a criminal you are doing something bad because it is for public nuisance but you are not a criminal they just give you a fine and adjourn
The coffeeshop, since they work outside the law, since cannabis is illegal and this is absolutely true, they work in this so called grey zone, that it means, grey zone, is a grey zone that is between legal and illegal , the police knows but don’t care.
There is a backdoor policy, I mean that of course they cannot buy weed from anybody because growing weed for selling is an offence and is a very big offence. If you can grow by yourself until upto 5 plants in your apartment and the 6th plant you could be arrested. Usually they take you away the plants and they let you go because anyway it is low priority
Weed and hashish seem not to make real damage to society, to other people they are not taking care
If you are talking about hard drugs they find you with a personal dose of hard drugs they take it away and they let you go. Hard dose, about 2 or 3 grams of cocaine or heroin they give you a fine, if you have more they can give you dealing charges
And actually how it works the coffeeshop
There are growers that actually usually connected to the hell angels or to smugglers that grow in apartment a huge number of plants and they sell it to the coffeeshop from the so called back door, this is the famous back door when they call they speak about the back door of a coffee shop it is this system. From the back door arrive a guy, that is called a runner with his bag full of weed, half a kilo of this, half a kilo of this and half a kilo of this
If you are a private you can go around the city with 5 grams of weed, top, without any problem
The coffeeshop can have a maximum of 500 grams in the place and the place related so even the place where the coffeeshop owner is living. So in fact sometimes when they want to close a coffeeshop they make a raid in the coffeeshop in the place of the guy and everything is related and if they find even one gram more, they’re done
Now in many cities outside Amsterdam they are required to be a resident In order to enter into a coffee shop
Yes, especially in the south because this is intended as a measure in order to stop the smuggling to Belgium, Germany and France
(So we couldn’t enter that place?)
No, no here in Amsterdam they don’t ask you. The minimum that you must be of legal age of 18
The coffeeshop runs with 5 golden rules. No hard drugs. No people under 18
(Ha. No more than 500 grams)
No more than 500 grams in total. No weapons, no I already told that
I’m certainly tired!
(Its ok, No alcohol)
There is a bar.There is the trick for example. There is a bar that has near a coffeeshop, together with the coffeeshop you are going into your bar and have your joint. Your beer, you Jägermeister or..
Actually there is a bar that I have seen that you can have joints as well
This is actually an exception to the rule because they can get a fine, if they come in and we still adhere to the European law that all the places are actually no smoking and you have to have a place for smoking area
There are some bars that don’t give a shit. Sometimes you have to chip in 10 cents in order so when they come they get the fine they already have the ……
And If they fail in any of these 5 rules, the premises is closed immediately. No mercy about that
In fact this is another thing that makes this thing work, you have boundaries in which you can do whatever you want
Just step outside these boundaries they are going to beat you very hard
(Kind of like self-policing then, they know…)
Exactly, but for example even for drug addicts, junkies of heroin some people that are in a certain state that they are really very addicted, old, this kind of stuff. They have no money they (the government) normally give house, and some money for living and the drug and the Heroin for the daily dose. If they are caught in doing something illegal but even if they, I don’t know, sleeping on the street or this kind of stuff, they lose all their privileges
This way they are actually motivated, motivating them in order to behave
(A set of rules, follow them!)
So in this way many of the junkies actually have an active social life, they have a job, they pay the taxes, and some people that they meet, they are kind and normal people and from a point of view this is incredible, its quite a miracle because really heroin is one of the most destructive drugs ever seen, well now there is even worse but………..
Treatment centres for heroin users AND Ayahuasca
And this place is are the first source for help and treatment for heroin user. They have a very high percentage of people that are recovering without falling back
(Are people sleeping up there?)
There are rest room, they cannot sleep overnight because it’s not a hostel, but there are hostels all around the city even for junkies that they have to go here in order for their stuff and then for sleeping they have to go, for example, near the central station
(If something bad happens, I mean, there is medical help?)
There is residence of medical, there is, actually the lady on the first floor that is the one that is handling and sending the people to this room was an ex addict.That After 25 years of addiction She give up and she recovered completely, went to a community in the south of the Netherlands, and came back and she started to volunteer here, and now is 5 years.
(Can I bring that back to the first, eh The church of Acahuasca (Ayahuasca!))
(Sorry I am …)
Ayahuasca, it was difficult for me, its an Inca word!
(So many people say that it’s a pretty good way of getting off heroin and hard drugs, because it’s a shock to the system, I mean I don’t know…..)
Absolutely, there are many people use it but this is not related to the religion because the religion is one thing you do all this kind of stuff
(Yeah I’m just wondering if that idea has been…)
No not yet, they are using a methadone programme in order to escalate it but lately they…
(Because some countries are thinking of that, I know Brazil and America…)
Yes but there is the problem of mental state, usually an addict is not mentally free, in order to have this kind of psychedelic experience you must have an inner balance that is powerful, this is why actually they don’t, ok I want to do Ayahuasca and you are making the rite of two month. It’s the priest that decides when you are ready because he sees you, about yeah, now you are ready, even if you have a problem because many people really they solve the problem during this trip
Actually it’s a sort of very similar to the Rite of the coming of age of the Indians of the Incas of America, that you do this very intense experience that makes you know yourself very well, and actually I think this is the real trick in the Ayahuasca, I mean that you have self-knowledge, and actually I can tell you……….
(A self-humility maybe is it?)
More than humility, you know more, you can except your limits, and honestly everybody takes drugs , me as the first person that has smoked and I did lots of ecstasy , amphetamine, and lot of things in the past because I was not comfortable with my limits , with my, that part of myself I didn’t like it. And the trip, sometimes if its done in a proper way can help you like that
The Ayahuasca treatment that you are talking about is actually is more shocking, and this is why it’s still controversial because it really like if your ice bucket in the face of ……….
(It is a kind of shock thing)
Yes exactly but there is a risk that ok, he give up with heroin, but he give even with social life
In fact psychedelics, some class of psychedelics, LSD, morning glory or Hawaiian baby woodrose that are hallucinogenic seeds and Ayahuasca must be treated very, very carefully
Because if you do the wrong steps you are fucked. Totally!
They was conning you in an incredible way, even now if you go around there back and forth you will hear someone with their lips…..coke, and this kind of stuff. My suggestion is never take this kind of stuff because they always con you. You can get for coke a lidocaine that actually is an aesthetic, very similar, the same. If you try that, the cocaine is an aesthetic, you do like this (rub into your gums, etc) your mouth will disappear. The same with lidocaine but it doesn’t do nothing.
And there is, I’m going to show you, (rummages through his bag)
Ok, These are one of the most famous pills sold for ecstasy, you see there is an S. They are triangle, they are fake because they are, this one (aspirin) and they are sold even now.
For doing that, you see that because these (the aspirin) are giving by the police, so I can show you the lidocaine as well
This is lidocaine, its used by dentists, for anesthetising your mouth, and is sold as coke. If you are lucky, because if you are lucky you just get this stuff it doesn’t really harms you too much.
If you are unlucky you can……………
(So how much would one of those (lidocaine) be then, if they were selling them?)
10 euro, 12 euro
(ok, wow, for tourists they can have a field day)
1.5 euro expense euro and there are 15 pills inside, so let’s make a calculation. Yeah, there are people here who make a living just coning the tourists
(That would be an easy kind of thing to do, I suppose!)
(Sure everyone is out of their mind!)
(Lot of tourists coming here, I would feel, I mean I see a lot of people walking around completely spaced out!)
(Like do people fall into the canal, on a regular basis?)
Yes, Mostly Tourist and because they are doing psychedelics
I work in a smart shop during the day, and we sell Truffles, psychedelic truffles, these one gives you a lot of hallucination and believe me, and i that strongly believe that 80% of the people who fall in the canal because of these mushrooms
(And do a lot of people die in the canal?)
Not dying but getting bad diseases because actually its not clean this water, you can have from Rats, leptospirosis. Surely for skin disease you can have liver hepatitis. You come inside healthy you came out very, very ill!
(So that stats are good obviously, you are going to show us some impressive stats)
Yes exactly, because checkout, this is In the USA and in the Netherlands
People that used Once or more cannabis or cocaine once in their life
(for cannabis) In the US 14% in the Netherlands 22%
This is half and we are talking about residents that tried at least once
For cocaine 13% against 3 .4
This at least means that this policy keeps away the people that are not really intending to making drugs, starting with the drugs because here you have so many opportunities and alternatives you dont want to take the ecstasy. There are many alternatives that can boost you up, you don’t want to take the heroin. There is a a crouton (?) that has the same affects and is totally legal. And it is Not addictive
This policy gives the people the choice and actually they are making an even a big education in schools about the dangers of drugs. It is very unlikely that someone goes on cocaine, on ecstasy
As you can see even that its working
Check this out. In Europe.This is the number of problematics of drug users in the EU
Actually, The uk are on top
Here (junkies) have places where to go, you cannot see it. Walk around freely, you are not scared about someone comes up with a Syringe. Besides that, check out everywhere you look there is a camera. For one camera that you see, there is three that you don’t see So here this is the safest place in Europe, After London……………….
(What is Thujone, you mentioned that before ?)
Thujone, yes, Is a active component Of absinthe
(Is it the name of the molecule or something …?)
It’s the name of the substance. Taken out from the worm wood plant that is distilled and it’s a psychoactive component that open your mind, and in high quantities, gives you hallucination.
When he was doing absinthe, whoever was doing absinthe, in the old times, I mean the 17thcentury, 18th century the distillation was not perfect and was producing another elements that was connecting with your brain cells and was making the stopping with each other, stopping the connection with each other, and stopping the synapses
These are some of the paintings that has been Inspired by absinthe. This is one of the most famous, called the Muse
In fact I make electronic music, when I was making a bottle of absinthe I was making an album in one night. Maybe it was shit but I loved it!
(Yeah, yeah, you had a Lot of energy)
What do the Dutch think?
This is how the Dutch think about the period of danger of drug. They make a scale of 9 points for personal damage and 7 points for damage to society
As we can see Alcohol is the worst, it’s very wide, it’s used by everybody. There is no emphasising and no education about that.
And check out the less problematic is the mushrooms, but that is 6 scale for the society problem because When you are eating mushrooms, the trouffles, you make noise.
Alcohol is the first, heroin and cocaine, and then you have methadone,
Cocaine, tobacco, and these things I don’t know antidepressant stuff
(It kind of makes sense, I think that list makes sense)
Lsd, and this one no personal harm
(Really I would have though,LSD you’d get a bad trip and…)
This is to show this is working, and this is why these are legal here and while in all over Europe they are not legal and the alcohol which is the worst is legal everywhere.
Its actually Bullshit from my point of view. If the countries just put some more alcohol education, because alcohol is wonderful like any kind of substance it is done in a certain way and the right way it’s a great thing. But if you abuse it then have lots of problems and actually there are lots of deaths for alcohol, not a single death for weed, not directly related. There are Some accidents, car accidents and this kind of stuff, some people, for example, fall into the canal, people here during the winter they got stoned they fall asleep, freeze to death. And these are related, but not directly related, and this is why its free, and that’s all………..
(Can I ask is there any negatives. Anybody rallying against this in Holland, in the Netherlands, is there any groups that are against all this…..?)
Yes because there are always people that wont like the fact that you have the freedom to do whatever you want. But they are shot down by the results because believe me when they started to apply this policy and did a social study on it. Because its not enough that you divide the market, you have to take care of the people that will anyway will do hard drugs no matter what because they will do it anyway. You can put them in jail and they are going to get the drugs in the jail. You can make them fine and they are going to steal, and besides that with all this kind of stuff there is more crime
(But what about the Local residents?)
The local residents in the area are mostly tourists, not tourists, mostly expats
For the locals actually they have no problem, and besides Amsterdam is one city
The Netherlands is totally different, they are in the south more open, in the north, closed, and very racist, and in fact there is no coffeeshop in every city. Because If the major doesn’t want it, the people doesn’t want it, no coffee shop in the cit.y
But the majority of the Dutch doesn’t give a shit about weed because they are so used (to it)
Everyone smoking, drunk and having a party, and this is strange but it works
In fact, there are for example, In the bars where they sell alcohol there are about 1000 calls a of the police a month, we are about 2 calls a month in the coffeeshops because anyway cannabis can is a drug that makes you more relaxed while alcohol makes you urgh!
Talking about governments, UK and the United States are against and criticising this kind of policy a lot
But here in Europe they are starting to be a change of thinking I mean they are starting to get used to the idea that weed and hashish are not so dangerous as they can think.
That they really are the First steps to the hard drugs If you don’t separate the market
In the US, Colorado, Florida and California and Washington now they can sell weed. Colorado made in one month of Selling weed as many taxes as doing taxes in the city for commercial premises. One month AND they went to the school,I mean just think about that!
The market. The legal market there are some kind of substances that are not harmful so its stupid that they are illegal but not from a point of view from an objective point of view, because if you make the alcohol legal that is very dangerous, you make….Why the weed that is not so dangerous
(How long have you been doing this tour?)
This now 6 months, and im doing research for 3 months because now we are expanding.
And they give me some materials and I started to expand it and in fact even now its still a growing creature. We are asking for permission from the police and the government In order to have access to more information and to some person, for example we would like to make an interview and make it on paper in order to make it available to our tours, for the drug users Injection room people for example or somebody from the ayahuasca, but in order to do that we need some permission because actually as we really want to do the stuff in the correct way
We have a private tour that as you can see you can ask everything and we can make a different and we have on Friday a fixed tour that is free on a tip basis
We have a group that is just more casual we talk about the coffee shop
A group that is just drinkers, we talk about the absinthes, the hangover information and so on
Actually I can tell you I am very proud of this small creature that is growing
We are telling people how is the real stuff here
Because believe me there are lots of myths about this city, and some are true!
Full article here
Use Facebook to Comment on this Post
Latest posts by Rob Nesbit (see all)
- Chris from the YouTube site “The Trucking and Beer Channel” - February 12, 2018
- Das Schwarze from Stuttgart - February 12, 2018
- Zürich, Swiss football away days 5. - February 7, 2018
- Warteck Lager - January 29, 2018