AMERICAN VS EUROPEAN CANNABIS CULTURE
Unless you’ve been living in a crater on the moon with your fingers in your ears and both eyes closed, you obviously know that marijuana has gone mainstream. Today in America, Colorado is the epicenter of the modern cannabis movement for legalization. Ironically, at the time of writing, the capital city of Denver is the place on this earth to light up a joint. Both medicinal and recreational cannabis is legal in the United States, but the devil is, as always, in the tail. It is absolutely forbidden to consume cannabis on the premises, and that includes an area within a radius of a few hundred meters from legal outlets. “Buy and fuck off,” is what it basically entails. It is therefore difficult to find a social place where you can enjoy top quality cannabis. This can cause the cannabis tourist quite a bit of headaches. Most hotels in the state of Colorado absolutely do not allow you to smoke or use a vaporizer. Worse, if you take a stroll in the woods with a spliff you can be eaten by a bear. Not all European countries have embraced the progressive legalization and availability of cannabis. However, if you are planning to go on a cannabis-friendly vacation and want plenty of opportunities to enjoy some social cannabis, Europe is definitely the place to be.
WHERE EXACTLY IN EUROPE?
Real Amsterdam Coffeeshop Cannabis is outstanding by any stoner’s standards. The “Fiesta” party atmosphere at one of the Cannabis Cups in Spain is also something you must experience. If you are preparing a stoner vacation or a weekend getaway, a lot of hassle is the last thing you are waiting for when you want to smoke weed. Check out these excellent and legal cannabis spots, where you can get nice and high while you’re away.
THE NETHERLANDS: MARIJUANA MECCA AMSTERDAM
Every cannabis user should visit Amsterdam at least once in their lifetime. Since the 1970s, coffee shops have been serving there in a legal “gray area.” New legislation in 2017 could change that. As the situation stands, gray is the perfect shade for the ordinary (decent) cannabis tourist. Attempts to restrict cannabis only to Dutch people have foundered because of the city’s huge tourist economy. Maastricht is an exception to this. This city in the south of the Netherlands only issues cannabis passes to residents. Worthless!
THE CRAZY CANNABIS POLICY
Showing a valid ID with photo proving you are at least 18 years old is enough to enjoy the delights of Amsterdam’s coffeeshops. Unfortunately, some fantastic coffeeshops have had to close their doors permanently, including original trendsetting old-school coffeeshops like Mellow Yellow. Current legislation requiring a coffeeshop to be located outside a 250 meter radius of a school and all the red tape that exists can be enough to destroy a healthy business.
STILL THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS
First-class Dutch coffee shops throughout Amsterdam can still stay in business, however. And if you travel a bit by train, you’ll find yourself in Utrecht, which is also home to fine coffee shops. The amount of cannabis you can buy in a coffeeshop is limited to 5 grams. Smoking on the street is not allowed – so go ahead, light up the place! First-class Dutch cannabis from one of the coffeeshops and a tasty waffle (or two) are a perfect snack as you walk back to your hotel.
SPAIN: BARCELONA IS BOOMING
Spain is probably making the most progress in legalizing cannabis of any European country, in terms of both medicinal and recreational use. The attitude of politicians from most parties has improved significantly and the cannabis trade is finally starting to gain a foothold and flourish. In Barcelona, there are currently about 400 operating cannabis clubs and associations. On top of that, the city hosts the largest annual cannabis event in Europe; the widely acclaimed Spannabis. Every year in March, a magnificent cloud of smoke hangs over the city. Like Dutch coffeeshops, Spanish clubs are in a “legal grey area”, but there are some subtle differences.
WHERE DOES THE CANNABIS COME FROM?
First, growing cannabis on your own property is legal in Spain. Second, Spanish cannabis clubs and associations are open to members only. Generally, most cannabis is grown by the club members themselves. The standard limit is 60 grams per member per month, but this can vary.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR CANNA TOURISTS?
Non-Spanish residents who are at least 18 years old can join a cannabis club for a small fee and buy some for their own use. Some clubs are elite, some are reserved for medical cannabis users, but most are run by ordinary stoners who want to create a social place where like-minded people can smoke weed together.
TIPS FOR CANNA TOURISTS WHO WANT TO VISIT A CLUB
It is best to contact a club you want to visit in advance via social media or WhatsApp to inform them that a newcomer is coming. You’ll need to bring a photo ID when you first visit, and when you become a member, you’ll be given a membership card. Light one up at the club or in private areas. Smoking sessions on the beach may seem like a lot of fun, but authority figures will catch you quickly because use in public is prohibited. Cannabis clubs and associations are sprouting up like mushrooms all over Spain, from Seville to small towns in Spain’s Basque Country. Amnesia Haze is the favorite sativa and Critical is the most consumed indica. The quality of cannabis varies from club to club, so check with local stoners who can direct you to the best spots, provided you “hablo un poco Español.”
GERMANY: PRESCRIPTION HERBS
You can legally smoke cannabis in Germany, but technically only if you have a prescription for medicinal cannabis. People who want to take a cannabis-friendly trip, we don’t discourage them from enjoying a weekend of getting stoned in Berlin. What we are saying is that it is possible to score first-class buds, just not at a club or coffee shop (if you know what we mean). Recreational use is considered self-harm, and not an offense. Today, more and more dispensaries are dispensing medicinal cannabis.
DECRIMINALIZED, BUT STILL NOT LEGAL
While not the same as legalization, decriminalization is a step in the right direction. The following countries are noteworthy for having decriminalized (to some extent allowed) cannabis. Possession of up to 15 grams of cannabis was recently decriminalized in the Czech Republic. Switzerland also allows possession of quantities for personal use. Italy and Poland have also decriminalized cannabis for personal use, and medicinal markets are in their infancy. Portugal was the first country to end the senseless “War on Drugs” by decriminalizing personal drug use in 2001. However, it is still not permitted to consume cannabis there – you just don’t end up in jail anymore. The legal status of cannabis in Europe is far from uniform. Although much progress has been made, we eagerly await further advances. The overall trend toward comprehensive legalization is particularly encouraging, and primarily a question of “when” rather than “if.”