I recently returned from a trip to Europe, which in my opinion is the most magical continent in the world. I planned on going to London and Paris and to to sneak in a couple days in Amsterdam. No where near enough time but with everything starting to slowly blossom with Cannabis in the United States I had to check out the country that has been long famed for its cannabis culture. I went in believing that The Netherlands has legalized cannabis use, but it turns out that the region has been operating under a so-called “policy of tolerance” since 1976, and though sale of cannabis is still an offense, law enforcement lets coffeeshops operate a long as they follow a specific set of restrictions. Anyway, I had to check out the shops in this famous region. How could I not?!
Where I’m from in Las Vegas everything about cannabis is very hyped up right now. People are excited about the recreational use of cannabis, as they should be (it was recently legalized on July 1, 2017). It has been a long time coming and has made phenomenal strides for the Cannabis industry. But going from a place where recreational use has recently been legalized to a place where it is the norm is kind of weird. I made sure to pay extra attention to everything so I could take you through my journey.
First, there was London. The sole purpose of this trip was to celebrate a London native’s birthday. There were about sixty people at this birthday party and I definitely made cannabis a topic of conversation. It was funny because the feedback I got from them was how normal it seems now. They were talking about how they used to take trips over to Amsterdam and smoking would feel so naughty because you can’t do it legally in London. Now it just feels like something that they can go do if they feel like taking a little trip next door! So to them it’s close enough that they don’t feel it a burden to hop on a train for a little puff.
Okay, so lets flash forward to Amsterdam. My first day exploring I definitely wanted to find a ‘coffeeshop.’ I have done all the research to do so because the one thing I didn’t want to do was seem like a ‘typical American’ asking around for a weed shop. Here are a few tips and tricks to finding them and enjoying your experience…
1- You need a ‘coffeeshop’ not a ‘coffee shop’. It should be all one word, not to be confused with their actual coffee shops or cafes.
2- It is illegal in Amsterdam to advertise so don’t look too hard for a giant window sign that says ‘sells cannabis here’ it’s not going to happen. There are a ton of coffeeshops around though so no need to panic, you just have to keep your eyes open.
3- One thing that is the same in Amsterdam as in Vegas is that they tend to take cash, very few accept cards so I wouldn’t bank on trying to find the one that does.
4- Most smoking accessories, are sold in little souvenir shops. The only smoking supplies they will sell in a coffeeshop are papers and lighters. If you want something different you should stop by a shop on the way. Also, these shops sell small edibles if you are thinking of an alternative to smoking. You can pick up infused lollipops, chocolate bars, tea etc…
5- If you are someone who prefers your joints to have tobacco in them, no need to be searching around. Most dutch people prefer that so the coffeeshops have loose tobacco to roll your spliffs with.
6- Another awesome thing is that even though alcohol is not allowed in the coffeeshops, quite a few bars allow you to smoke inside of them! So, if you buy some for later, no need to worry about where to consume, even some hotels are down with it!
7- Speaking of where to consume, a huge difference in Amsterdam vs Vegas is the legality of consumption. If the police catch you with cannabis in a place that it isn’t welcomed, they pretty much just take it away from you and slap you on the wrist. No weird sobriety testing and handcuffs here!
Once I had done my research on how to go about finding coffeeshops and cannabis in Amsterdam, I went out and kept my eyes peeled! I grabbed some breakfast from a nearby cafe and afterwards rented a bike and started biking around the downtown area. I found a souvenir shop that sells a ton of cannabis products, like smoking devices, infused tea, lollipops, t-shirts, pretty much everything you can think of besides the actual flower itself. The guy at the shop informs me that there is a coffeeshop just on the other side of his store, so I venture around the corner and what do you know, a COFFEESHOP! I lock my bike up and head inside.
It is a little place with about six or seven high top tables. At the back is a long countertop where you can order. Most of the tables are filled but there is one empty table to the back right so I take it. I go up to the counter after setting my stuff down. The girl behind the counter is this tiny blonde girl with so much energy and eagerness to help and talk to people. We chat for a minute and then I order two pre-rolls and an espresso. I sit as she gets my order ready. I couldn’t believe it, here I am in Amsterdam getting ready to smoke and in a public place, kind of…she brings me my pre-rolls and espresso as I’m taking this place in. All the tables are full of people smoking and laughing, behind the counter are coffee makers, espresso machines and flower.
The menu is laminated on the counter as well as a copy at my table. The menu for Amsterdam is pretty standard for every place, they sell the same specific strains and that’s just how it is. Also at my table is a sealed bowl of tobacco for the people who wish to roll their own spliffs (which is very popular in Amsterdam; it makes the joint last longer.) There is also a picture hovering above my table of a cathedral as this ‘coffeeshop’ was called The Old Cathedral Coffeeshop. It was interesting how some coffeeshops have an addition to the name to ‘hide’ the fact that it is a ‘coffeeshop’. I noticed that the more I explored the city.
Alright, so I am finally in a coffeeshop, I have my joint and coffee and am so excited! It is pouring rain outside and the front entrance of the coffeeshop is all open windows. Even though I am in the back, it is a small place so I can truly take in everything; the sound and smell of the rain, the smell of coffee and cannabis circulate through the fresh air that is pouring through the windows. The rain creates a chill temperature that is coming through and cooling the place down but yet it is still cozy. Everyone in the coffeeshop is laughing and enjoying their time with friends. You can’t help but think how really great it is to be consuming in this environment.
I take the second pre-roll to go and continue about my day and eventually wind up smoking this second one on a wall bordering a bunch of trees in a beautiful park. Also on the wall were a few other who pegged it as the perfect place for a puff as well. I look forward to these Amsterdam natives coning to Vegas to join me at the perfect places to puff whenever those social use lounges come to be!