Sleaford Mods and a Drugs Tour of Amsterdam

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam

Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods are an English electronic post-punk band hailing from Nottingham, composed of vocalist Jason Williamson and musician Andrew Fearn.  The duo have been on the crest of a wave recently as their music is seen as the perfect antidote to David Cameron’s ruination of Britain. The “Sleaford” comes from the town Sleaford that is near Grantham, Lincolnshire (where Williamson is from) and the “Mods” is an obvious reference to the subculture that inspired the group. Paul Weller, the Jam and all that!

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015Both in their angry 40’s Williamson is the lyricist, Fearn the man with the beats, and years of working in dead end jobs, doing drugs, and getting by, have shaped them into what we have today, a band with something to say about the state of modern day Britain.

Their songs/rants are mostly a commentary on the mundane life of working class life in small town Britain: drinking cheap lager, shit jobs and weekends of nothingness. Also included are many criticisms of other rock groups and pop culture in general. There is a lot of swearing and shouting, ie industrial working class language, all done in their typical East Midlands accent.

Comparisons have been made to Mark E. Smith, John Cooper Clarke and Ian Dury, amongst others, all of which annoys the band no end.

With success comes recognition, and this year has seen them collaborate with the Prodigy, on “Ibiza”, a pish take on modern day superstar DJs, and with Leftfield “Head and Shoulders”, about modern consumerism, and which has a video that is definitely worth checking out.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015Along with that, in July they also released their newest album ‘Key Markets’. Their eight album since 2007, and following on from the successes of 2014’s album “Divide and Exit” and 2013’s “Austerity Dogs”, albums which got them a lot of press interest and, with appearances in Glastonbury and in Banky’s DISMALAND attraction, the band have really started to get a lot of attention to date. Key Markets also hit the charts, getting into the top twenty,

I like the Sleaford Mods. In an age where music is generally bland, and with no one having anything of note to say, it’s refreshing to hear a band that cuts through the shite and lays modern life as it really is. Its middle age angst, enough of the shite we have something to say too! And you can tell that Williamson means it. He makes the music we all would love to make, or at least I would.

I also love the fact that Fearn just stands on stage, happy and content, mostly chugging a beer, and presses play on the computer. Brilliant. While Williamson is the prefect front man, the opposite to Fearn, frantic, dripping with sweat looking possessed, slightly mad, slightly manic with the odd tic thrown in here and there. Compelling.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015But its not just shouting and acting the maggot. Williamson’s lyrics do contain some real gems.

“Boris on a bike? Quick, knock the cunt over.”

“I fuckin’ hate Northern Soul / it’s like Motown’s on the dole.”

“Can of Strongbow, I’m a mess. Desperately clutching onto a leaflet on depression. Supplied to me by the NHS.Is anyone’s guess how I got here. Anyone’s guess how I go.I suck on a roll-up – pull your jeans up Fuck off, I’m going home.”

“Cameron’s hairdresser got an MBE, I said to my wife ‘You’d better shoot me”

Or the lines from arguably their best song, “Jobseeker”:

“So, Mr Williams, what have you done in order to find gainful employment since your last signing on date? ‘Fuck all. I sat around the house wanking.’”

This is Rage Against The Machine via Nottingham, and I love it.

As for the concert in Amsterdam, it was pretty good, lively enough, a good set of all the top songs, and a bit of angry banter from Williamson. Small venue which was packed to the rafters,  looked like a lot of English came over the gig. Had one nutter infront of me headbanging like a wally, (keep that for Iron Maiden man!), but overall a good vibe from the crowd……I guess everyone was chilled…….so all in all was good to see the duo live, and set us up perfectly for a night on the town in the dam.

Melkweg in Amsterdam

Lijbaansgracht 234 A

1017 PH   Amsterdam

The Netherlands

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015The concert was held in the Melkweg (“Milky Way”), a popular night club in the heart of Amsterdam, near the Leidseplein, the nightclub area of the Dam. A huge building that was once an abandoned dairy factory. The venue, founded in 1970, hosts all kinds of music, theatre, and cultural events throughout the year, from the big international acts to emerging talents, they all play here making the venue a popular place for both lovers of mainstream and underground styles. Melkweg is run as a not for profit organisation of artists, and on top of the price for the gig we also had to pay a monthly membership fee which was a tad bit annoying but to be fair the price of the Sleaford Mods tickets were cheap (Something that Williamson of the band moaned about himself during the gig!) so I guess it didn’t really matter in the end.

Rookies Coffeeshop Amsterdam

Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 145-147

1017 PZ   Amsterdam

The Netherlands

So we were in Amsterdam, mulling around after the concert, wandering around when we passed by “the Rookies”, what looked like one of those coffeeshops we have heard about so much. Well when in Rome and all that, why not.

Not sure what exactly to get on the Marijuana menu:, we played it safe and went with the hashcakes. The staff were friendly and gave us some good advice and tips, the cake also came with beginner notes. Not to drink too much alcohol later as it might have a negative effect, etc, well of course that went in one ear and out the other

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015Founded in 1992, by at that time Amsterdam’s youngest Coffeeshop owners hence the reason its called “The Rookies” situated close to the Leidseplein area, and not too far off the main drag, past all the nice restaurants (we had some decent food in a Uruguayan joint)

Apparently it used to be a bar but owing to a law prohibiting coffeeshops from selling beer, The coffeeshop didn’t sell beer which for us was a bit of a downer, but nevertheless interestingly enough the vibe felt like we were in a pub. The interior looked like a bar, albeit it had a huge sealed off smoking lounge to the right which can seat over 80 people, and looked pretty packed on the Friday night we were there …… but we decided to stay at the high bar near the entrance, chilling with some coffees, nicely squeezed orange juice, and the cakes, where there was less people and plenty of space

The place was very relaxing, the music was pretty good not too loud and easy to chat over, friendly staff, and the vibe of the place, was great, very relaxing place to spend a few hours and have the chat. Have to say the coffee was great, and I am a tea drinker so…

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015I really liked the place, don’t know if it was the coffee, the cake or what but the ambiance was well chilled…. and also it didn’t have a touristy feel, felt more homely, well laid back, Amsterdam style.

So as for the cakes, they were nice enough. Apparently you are not meant to drink beer and do the cakes, so feck that, but yeah after a long while the affects did kick in. Giggling like a girl at the start, a bit of paranoia to end, but overall nothing a whole lot special. To be honest I am not into this kind of thing, but it was interesting to try all the same……

The Hangover Information Center

Could not but notice this place, it was so well lit up and looked like it was selling some kind of hard core liquor. Alas, no, but it did offer to cure our expected hangovers? Intrigued we just had to hear more about this magical cure…..surely not….a cure for hangovers!!

Situated in the heart of the red light district the Hangover Information Center (HIC) offers to Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015help cure your morning afters. When you drink alcohol you dehydrate, you lose water and important nutrients (amino acids and vitamins), you will get that sore head unless you can rebalance the loss. Now the experts always say you should drink some water during the night or before you go to bed, but people rarely do that in all honesty. So the HIC have come up with the miracle cure called RESET

The formula contains specific vitamins and amino-acids that are meant to rebalance the body after a night on the town. It won’t get you sober, but it is meant to cure your next day hangover.

Tried it the night before we were to leave Amsterdam, didn’t taste as bad I would have expected. Found it a little hard to mix the power with the fluid, as the powder was rock hard, but managed most of it in the end.  I woke up early the next day fine, and had no hangover or feeling of grogginess. But I honestly wouldn’t put that down to the RESET. I think the beer in the Dam is clean and very crisp, and I think that it was more to do with the quality of the beer I was drinking than anything I consumed before bed. I guess!


The Pint

Oudezijds Achterburgwal 116

1012 DT Amsterdam

Centrum, De Wallen

The Netherlands

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015All that walking around De Wallen and admiring the views (or gawking at the ladies!) was thirsty work. Noticed this bar dead centre in the area of the red light district. Had a distinctive big red Rolling Stones tongue on the outside, and sure enough inside there was a rocky feel to the bar. Good music, cozy atmosphere, a nice and relaxing bar.  I liked it as it was like a cocoon to all the crowds and the madness that was happening outside. Was good to escape the craziness of De Wallen for an hour.

Cafe Brecht

Weteringschans 157

1017 SE Amsterdam

SE Amsterdam

The Netherlands

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015We had our accommodation just around the corner from Weteringschans, an intersection of trams and streets, near the Rijksmuseum.

Café Brecht caught our eye, it was teaming with people, and looked like a decent place. As it is a café we weren’t sure if they did beers but luckily for us they did. The bar has an amazing décor, decked out like an old fashioned living room with vintage furniture, cool wallpaper on the walls, and a lot of retro lampshades, all very comfy. The small living room style, a nostalgic Berlin café feel, was very cool, and the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015They have a pretty impressive array of beers, mostly German, and all with weird sounding names.  Was lucky to get a seat as the place was pretty packed. Sat down on a lovely comfortable armchair, taking in the nice vibe, sipping a tasty stout, and was able to enjoy the chat. Called after the German poet Bertholt Brecht, the place did have a very arty feel, but it was not at all pretentious or too full on. It was more quirky and laid back than anything. Liked it a lot and if I ever return to the Dam will definitely will return. A good place for a nice beer.


Cut Throat Barber and Coffee

Beursplein 5

1012 Amsterdam


The Netherlands


Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015Hidden away in what was once Amsterdam’s stock exchange and very easy to miss, Cut throat is a unqiue experience that’s for sure. Don’t you just hate waiting to get your hair cut, I know I do anyway. Well why not spend that time waiting, by drinking beer, or coffee, or having a decent meal. Have to say, this is a cracking idea, and fuck me why didn’t I think of this! A barber shop that also is a coffee/bar. Brilliant idea.

Mate got the haircut, and a have to say a cracking good cut too.  Was regretting not getting one myself, lord knows I need one as I haven’t had a cut since early summer and presently look like something that crawled out of a cave, but Im not so sure they could deal with my scraggily hair. I am not a hipster and like it messy. So I concentrated on the bar and the beers, I didn’t mind the wait!! Even though it was a Saturday afternoon my mate didn’t have to wait so long. He just put his name down on the board, was called after about ten minutes, which was great. They were busy but they had about 3 or 4 barbers working flat out.

The barber shop area can be seen from the bar so you can get a good view of their craftsmanship, and the interior of the place is bricked which adds a bit of character to the place.  The bar had quite a few craft beers on offer, and with the recommendation of the friendly bar maid I went for Raging Bitch an interesting Belgian-Style IPA.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015Didn’t get anything to eat, but heard that apparently the tacos are good. Damn missed that, as the Chinese I had in town later was rank. Opportunity missed. The bar itself wasn’t too bad, a nice friendly chilled atmosphere, the service excellent, was kind of interesting to see the hipsters with their perfectly pruned beards and all, the delicate flowers.  Nice enough bar, but I like the sawdust on the floor, blood on the wall kind of joints, and this is a little too bit too pretentious for me, sorry!


Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, with the exception of street prostitution, and De Wallen is the largest, the oldest, and best known of the three red light districts in the city of Amsterdam, consisting of a network of narrow alleys where about 300 small one room cabins are rented by prostitutes who offer their unique sexual services from behind a window or glass door, usually illuminated with red lighting.

The area is not too far from Amsterdam’s China town and just a few blocks away from Oude Kerk, the city’s oldest church, and is located in the centre of Amsterdam’s old town, criss- crossed by several canals, cobbled streets and utterly charming 14th century architecture.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015The area is an interesting tourist attraction, not just for the lonely man looking for some relief, but is also usually bustling and packed every evening with thousands of tourists and/or punters, gawking at all the scantily clad ladies waving at the passing trade. Apart from the red lights there is also a variety of sex shops, peep shows, two sex museums, and a few coffee shops, bars and clubs. Apparently some men also offer their services but I didn’t notice that! One must note that it is strictly forbidden to take a photograph, and doing so might get you a free bath in the canals of the city, so be careful!

Prostitution is “the world’s oldest profession”, and the history of it in Amsterdam dates as far back as the 14th century and the fact that Amsterdam was always a harbour city where trade brought people into the city, and with it an explosion of bars, gambling houses, brothels, and parlors where women could offer their services for the right price. All illegal but tolerated if kept hidden. In the Napoleonic period, in the early 19th century, prostitution became legal, and French soldiers were the main customers. Regular health checkups were compulsory.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015In the early 20th century religious organizations ran campaigns hoping to end prostitution resulting in a series of laws banning brothels, trafficking, and pimping thus driving the girls underground, and out of sight. But of course this didn’t stop prostitution and by the 20’s and 30’s the local authorities eventually allowed prostitutes to ply their trade as long as they didn’t solicit in doorways, but did allow them to sit behind their windows peeking from the curtains beckoning customers, and so this is how the “window trade” began, first with elegant nice dresses to later and now with no dresses and little else!

By the 1960s, Amsterdam authorities tolerated red-light district prostitution, and the trade became legal in the year 2000. The prostitutes have to pay tax, but their profession is now has better access to medical care and must abide to health and safety government standards. With the Prostitution Information Center, a prostitute led organisation, in the district itself, also offering advice and valuable information and with the Red Light District heavily policed and controlled, you could argue that their profession is now much better regulated than ever before.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015The system is not perfect, there are still issues regarding pimps, trafficking and general criminality, and for this reason there has been a crackdown on the number of windows, that in 2007 the De Wallen lost a third of its windows, closed by the city council. Of course the argument is that by closing legal brothels this will push women out onto the streets, unsafe and unregulated. At least at present it is strictly regulated by the police who carry out regular checks to ensure they comply with the rules, and also on hand are social workers, health workers, tax authorities and civil rights groups.

One thing is that the place in and around the De Wallen at night time was absolutely heaving with people. I am nearly sure I passed the area during the day time, but once it gets dark that’s when the red neon lights go on and the fun starts! It was a little bit seedy, and low rent but what you see is the reality of life. There will always be prostitution and at least Amsterdam doesn’t try to hide this fact, and for that it has to be commended.


Now most people think that cannabis is legal in the Netherlands, but in fact it’s not! So how do they have coffeeshops then? Well the Dutch are a practical people, they turn a blind eye to it. “Gedogen” basically means denying all knowledge, or looking the other way. If you look at their history, through the 17th century when Catholics were banned to practice their religion, yet did in houses and attics by paying taxes to the relevant authorities, or the sex trade down through the ages, yeah the Ditch have a habit of pleading innocence or more precisely not giving a fuck. They are a chilled out bunch the Dutch.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015So coffeeshops can sell cannabis products in small quantities as long as the shop adheres to a number of strict regulations, such as no advertising of drugs, no hard drugs, alcohol, or tobacco smoking on the premises, no sales to anyone under the age of 18, no sales of quantities bigger than 5 grams, amongst other health and safety considerations. If these rules are followed then the shop will not be punished for selling cannabis, which as I said is illegal.

Most of the coffee shops are located in the city centre and they are roughly just over 200 in Amsterdam. As they are not allowed to advertise their ware, you can easily spot them, apart from the unique smell, they are usually decked out in the Ethiopian flag, Rastafarian and reggae symbols or the palm leaves of the plant itself.

Since the early 70’s, Coffeeshops in Amsterdam have been going strong with Mellow Yellow counted as the first one in the city when a group of friends opened a coffeeshop to share their hobby of smoking hashish and marijuana. Surprisingly to the group of friends, the police didn’t bother them too much, as heroin and other hard drugs were creating all sorts of problems in the city, with Amsterdam at one stage having over 500 heroin users! so the authorities quickly noticed that wasting time and resources fighting soft drugs was not going to solve the cities hard drugs problem. With coffeeshops people don’t encounter dealers selling hard drugs, and hence were not open to this side of the industry. The proof is in the pudding as they say, with the introduction of coffeeshops demand for hard drugs has decreased dramatically over the years, in fact the Dutch have one of the lowest rates of hard drugs users in Europe, and also they don’t have prisons overcrowded with drug abusers.  Additionally, It has to be said that the coffeeshops are now licensed by the local council and are subject to stringent regulations, and also pay taxes so it benefits the government’s coffers which is one way to make the authorities happy.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015One particular reason that the Dutch don’t go the whole hog and just officially legalise the drug is that would more than likely bring it into conflict with its EU partners, so they have decided to tolerate it without excessively restricting the trade.

However there is a rather strange and interesting anomaly with this sytem. Coffeeshops are allowed to buy and sell cannabis; however suppliers and dealers are not allowed to grow and sell to the shops. This grey area works as the coffeeshop owner pleads ignorance to where he gets his supply, ie from the often locked back door, while the police only care what’s going on from the front door! Gotta love the Dutch!

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015In 2012 A Dutch judge ruled that only residents of the Netherlands may buy and smoke soft drugs at coffeeshops tourists, but thankfully it appears that the city of Amsterdam has collectively decided to once again turn a blind eye to this ruling, fearing a loss of tourist Euros to the city since the coffeeshops, whether you partake in the blow or not, are tourist attractions in their own right

“Drugs Tour Amsterdam”

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

(Oh, Really?)

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)

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!

Be Careful!

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 17th century, 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


The Tour

(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

(The reality)

Because believe me there are lots of myths about this city, and some are true!



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Beer drinker and all round annoyance. Likes drinking, football, cricket and having a good time.

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