There are all kinds of reasons to travel somewhere new. The promise of foreign skylines, exotic languages, interesting cultures, and strange music is often enough to draw us across borders. But there are other reasons for traveling to different cultures, including the opportunity to take advantage of differences in local laws to do something on your trip that maybe you couldn’t do at home. While the ethics of this behavior is an interesting discussion, we’ll skip over the murky morality of the world of sex tourism and focus instead on doing legal drugs. Particularly, as marijuana policy shifts across the globe, there are more and more places where you can legally burn one down, but that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. Doing legal drugs in a foreign place is still risky, at least unless you do your homework on the laws, and almost as important, the culture.

First of all, when going to a place like Amsterdam, or even Denver, know what is and isn’t legal. What substances are OK, what are the local limits on purchases and on possession? Where is it legal to buy, possess and use, and where is it illegal? Usually a quick Googling will reveal this information, but if you can’t find it on the Internet, consider asking someone who knows, like the person at the shop. Which brings me to my next point: don’t be too cool to ask questions. It is unlikely that you will know all the subtleties of a foreign drug culture, and your ignorance, if stubbornly held to, will eventually expose you to the people around you (or worse, the police). Besides, admitting one’s ignorance is often a great conversation starter (we’ll get to that).

It’s important to know your limits. There’s actually a lot that goes in to knowing your limits: not only your physiological tolerance, but your confidence in your ability to do things like converse with others and navigate the foreign crowd choked streets back to your hotel. Getting lost is no fun. Getting lost wasted is even less fun and dangerous, to boot. Never overindulge in unfamiliar circumstances or around people you do not trust. This can have terrible consequences anywhere that are only magnified by your presence in a foreign place.

It’s not all scary though, remember that you’re there to have fun. Use the side effects of whatever locally legal drug to start new relationships. In a safe environment, like a busy Dutch coffee shop, begin by asking questions; begin by admitting you not from here. Trust me, your body language while negotiating a weed purchase just made that clear to everyone in the place anyway. Use that. Start conversations you would otherwise be too shy to jump into, make friendships (with appropriate boundaries). Be cautious, but don’t be afraid. Excessive fear can not only harsh your buzz but also rob you of wonderful experiences. After all, that’s what travel is all about: the experiences. Legal drugs, when used in accordance with local laws and customs, can be an excellent entry point into a foreign culture, so light up and pass it round. Make some friends, ask some questions. People love to be authorities on something and they love when their opinions and stories are listened to. Hell, keep these simple things in mind, and you’ll live out a story you’ll be glad to tell everyone back home about that time you did legal drugs.