Smoking indoors in Amsterdam is technically banned, though toking at coffee shops is still tolerated.
By Gil Kaufman
Miley Cyrus onstage at the MTV EMAs
Photo: Getty Images
Miley Cyrus promised that she would once again grab most (if not all) of the headlines after her performance at Sunday night’s 2013 MTV EMA show. And, of course, between her rocket ride entrance, alien twerking and super high-cut catsuit, she did.
But all of those bits paled in comparison to the stunt that ended up getting her the most attention: a little on-stage smoke break you might have heard about. Miley, who has not been shy in the past about her love of the sacred herb, visited the Greenhouse coffee shop in Amsterdam before the broadcast and sported ear buds with pot leafs on them during her “Wrecking Ball” performance. Then she celebrated her win for Best Video by pulling what looked like a joint out of her purse and sparking it up during her acceptance speech.
It was the puff heard ’round the world and, as expected, it got a lot of attention from the global media. But could it get some unwanted attention from Dutch authorities?
Despite Amsterdam’s grin-inducing reputation as a haven of legal prostitution and marijuana, it’s not exactly the anything-goes bacchanal you imagine.
Yes, the city is known for coffee shops that serve things way stronger than a double cappuccino, but recreational drugs (including marijuana) are illegal in the Netherlands. In 1976, the Dutch parliament decriminalized possession of less than five grams of cannabis, which gave rise to coffee shops offering a range of pot-related products that you can spark up in full view indoors or at a sidewalk table.
But like many cities across the globe, in 2008, the Netherlands imposed restrictions on smoking in public places. Those new rules made it so that lighting up in the coffee shops was still okay, but toking in most public places is illegal. While pot and some forms of “recreational mushrooms” are still illegal, their use is tolerated and prosecutors typically will not go after anyone holding small quantities.
According to the global expat network Angloinfo.com, the Tobacco Act of 2002 banned smoking cigarettes in public places, including any office building, public transport, public space or night clubs. So, technically, the rule does not apply to smoking weed, but, you know, officials prefer that you keep that restricted to the coffee shops only.
And chances are they’ll let Miley slide on this one.