Stoner? Planning a vacation? Have no fear, guest writer ‘The Hemperor’ has you covered with the info on these two pothead-friendly destinations…
As a consummate consumer of cannabis for over 10 years, I’ve had my fair share of experience with purchasing and blazing the sweet sweet herbaaj. You can buy weed all over the world, relatively easily: from Peru to Portugal, I have never struck out. However, obviously, and ridiculously, it is still not legal for the majority of the civilised (pah) world. Fortunately, amidst the mire of parochial control and legislation shine 2 pinnacles of hope: Amsterdam and Colorado: real-world locations where one can legally purchase weed and without hassle. Thus, following a recent trip to Colorado, our esteemed editor asked me to compare the buying and schameewking experiences of these 2 beautiful locations in an effort to tackle the question; ‘Which is the ultimate stoner’s destination?’
Let’s take a look….
$$$ Buying $$$
The term ‘coffee shop’ is applied loosely in Amsterdam and basically means ‘somewhere you can go to buy and smoke weed’. Coffee shops represent a much more pleasant buying experience than that found in the majority of the world. Most places have a menu with the different strains available and the price per gram – or per pre-rolled joint.
Across the city a wide range of herb and concentrates are available, quality and range are dependent on the shop, but, I can assure you, there is some great product out there. You can find some very well-written guides online to coffee shops in Amsterdam, from both a chilling and purchasing perspective, and I thoroughly recommend checking these out before you head out and get too bleary-eyed. I personally find that in some of the busier shops it is difficult to spend as much time as you would like with the menu, as there is always a very stoned and annoying (normally British) tourist waiting to order coffee behind you.
No coffee shops in Colorado, weed is sold in dispensaries here – basically dedicated weed shops that are licensed sellers of cannabis. Unlike the Dutch coffee shops, one cannot smoke in dispensaries, they are solely for picking up.
After passing through an antechamber where your ID is checked, you then enter the inner sanctum; a fairly small, windowless, yet exceptionally clean and well presented room with a slightly clinical or at least therapeutic vibe. It’s how I imagine a waiting room at the Church of Scientology, were the walls not festooned with posters advertising the available products. On entering the room you are greeted by a vast array of herb in large glass jars, and many types of concentrates and devices – most of which I’d never seen before. Normally, there are only a few people in the room at any one time so your experience does not feel rushed. It didn’t hurt that the first person to serve me was a 10/10 smoke-show, so I walked out of my first buying experience with a smile and a huge bag of goodies, including a Girl Scout Cookies-Lemon Haze cross , which may well be the best weed I have ever smoked.
As predicted, following legalisation, the USA has taken it upon itself to push marijuana to its extremes and to develop innovative and delicious products – trust the Yanks to go big or go home; I couldn’t be more pleased.
Perhaps the better of the two experiences for a tourist as smoking is permitted in coffee shops – just remember you can’t mix it with tobacco. Coffee shops can vary quite a bit in terms of decor and seating, from places reminiscent of an old English pub – a basic place with few wooden benches and tables, perhaps a TV hanging up – to more modern places with cushioned sofas and dimly lit areas for chilling more comfortably.
This means that you can buy your weed and accompanying Chocomel, and be sat toking within a matter of seconds, sitting and giggling (or just chilling) with your mates or socialising easily with those around you. On the flip side, many of the cafes are not hugely comfortable, and you will tend to be reminded to buy drinks on a regular basis. Smoking discretely outside in parks and on the streets is also permitted, or at least accepted. The best solution may be to find one of the bars or other venues which will permit you to smoke there – I don’t think this is technically legal but it seems to be commonplace in The Dam.
Unlike Amsterdam, there are no specific locations for consumption of cannabis. Staying in AirBnBs or similar locations where the owners have a good 420 policy means that you can buy your green from one of the many dispensaries but have to take it home to enjoy. With the vast array of edibles and ‘non-obvious’ cannabis products (such as sprays or e-cigarettes) however, you have no excuse to be sober at any time in Colorado. The lack of designated smoking areas does somewhat limit your options and also the ease with which you can meet other like-minded individuals.
Amsterdam stood alone for years, Colorado has joined more recently, and we are seeing changes all over the world in terms of societies progressively more sensible approaches to ganja. Even in the UK, which tends to be so keen on tradition and reluctant to change, law enforcement in some areas have made statements that they will not actively pursue those growing or personally consuming small amounts. Perhaps global change is on the horizon – as and when it happens, there are lessons to be learned from Amsterdam and Colorado for how to get the faacking job done.
Hailing from the UK, Amsterdam is a mere hour by air, and as such, I am a relatively regular visitor. It is a truly beautiful city, with many fascinating things to do, and is the original home of legal blazing. Within a morning, I can go from a grey UK to a metropolitan city that accepts my choices and gives me access to a plethora of cannabis products that I would struggle to find anywhere in Europe. Each time I leave I promise myself that I will never go back, as life is short and the earth is very large, yet every couple of years, I find myself in Leidesplein.
Colorado on the other hand is a good 8 hour flight, with commensurate increases in expense, but I would visit again in a heartbeat. This was my first visit to the USA, and so perhaps some of my enthusiasm is rooted in novelty, but there is something attractive about the nonchalant attitude to smoking held by the populace, even so soon after legalisation. In Amsterdam, it still feels like you are doing something wrong somehow – in Colorado, the enthusiasm and knowledge of the products shown in dispensaries was more akin to what you might find in a specialist wine shop, which I enjoyed very much. As a caveat – I am not a Dutch speaker, whereas as the Americans pretty much speak English.
If money were no object, Colorado would be my preference for a repeat visit. I feel that there is still so much to see, having only spent time in Denver and Boulder, both of which I would high-ly recommend, and from a purely ganja-perspective, I do think that they have the edge over Amsterdam.
If you haven’t had your head in the sand (and unless Donny T has changed things radically since publication), you may well be aware that an increasing number of states are at least partially-legalising the dro’. These states have a great model to follow in Colorado and high standards to meet, and hopefully, surpass. Road trip anyone?