Why Tourists Visiting Amsterdam Should Be Careful When Getting A 'Space Cake'

Let's be real: Amsterdam is just as known for its canals as it is for its cannabis tourism. While the green stuff isn't technically legal in the Netherlands, "coffee shops" (different from the coffee shops you might visit in your country) are given a free pass to serve edibles and other mind-altering goodies.

As a result, a lot of tourists visit Amsterdam with a clear goal in mind: Indulge in a "space cake" while tripping (get it?) in the Venice of the North. However, both experienced users and newbies should be careful when munching on the sweet treat. Travel TikToker Jetsetting Jacki posted an honest account of her experience with space cakes in a viral video. "People tell you to only eat, like, a third of the cake. I reckon you should even eat less than that cause, guys, you will literally be on the floor," she urged in the clip. "I was in my hostel room seeing my life flash before my eyes for hours."

Others echoed Jacki's experience in the video's comments. "When I tell you I was PARALYSED IN MY BED I'm not even joking, they told me have HALF I thought I was going to die," wrote one TikTok user. Another added, "I thought I wasn't breathing." Consider yourself warned: The edibles in Amsterdam might be a lot stronger than you would expect.

Watch out for fake cakes too

If you go to a legitimate coffee shop in the Netherlands, you can expect to be served a heavily infused space cake or brownie. But on the other end of the spectrum, you might get duped into buying a fake edible hardly different from the cakes you'd buy at a supermarket or standard bakery.

There are over 160 registered coffee shops around the Netherlands' biggest city. But when walking around the central neighborhoods, you'd assume there are a lot more, given how many storefronts advertise space cakes. In reality, not all of these space cakes are really, um, spacey. Souvenir shops, food markets, and other spots without the "coffee shop" designation can't legally sell cannabis, meaning their cakes and brownies don't actually contain THC.

A Reddit user who goes by thelostj3di posted a photo of what to watch out for, showing a packaged brownie that, despite claiming to be "strong" and "pure cannabis," says it contains 20 micrograms — of what, exactly, is unclear. Moreover, Redditors noted that 20 micrograms (not milligrams) of THC wouldn't be enough for the average person to feel any effect. In other words, consider these products nothing but a tourist trap to avoid.

How to safely try Amsterdam's edibles

Before ordering a space cake in Amsterdam, know what you're getting yourself into. As Jetsetting Jacki and others warned on TikTok, a piece of the dessert could put you out of commission for a while. With this in mind, consider taking the cake to go and eating it once you're settled in your hotel for the night. If needed, you can crawl into bed and sleep off the effects. It's also a good idea to have a friend around in case you have a bad trip, so you might want to skip the cakes when exploring Amsterdam alone.

For the best quality, consider going to one of the city's well-known coffee shops, rather than a random spot you found while passing through the Red Light District. The Rookies, Paradox, and Boerejongens are a few highly recommended shops selling space cakes. Note that you may be asked to show your identification before entering or purchasing products.

Finally, go slow and resist the urge to eat the whole thing. When in doubt, ask the coffee shop staff how much of the cake they recommend eating in one sitting. Try a portion of the cake, and wait at least two hours before going in for seconds, since the effect can take time to kick in. If you have a bad reaction, know that it will eventually pass. However, if you experience hallucinations or are at risk of injuring yourself, seek medical care immediately.