Cannabis Liberation Day 2017: A Sunny Success

Cannabis Liberation Day

The sun was beaming for the happy festival goers on Sunday at the 9th annual Cannabis Liberation Day festival. Held in the spacious and beautiful Flevopark in the east of Amsterdam, the event proved to be an overall success with a huge friendly turn out, showing a strong example of what Amsterdam cannabis culture looks like, outside of the coffeeshops.

New-born babies and grandparents shared the same space together, and the smiles swept from end-to-end of the field in a green sea of happy high people. This was a gathering of the varied cannabis tribes, spearheaded by artists, musicians and cannabis activists.

The guest speakers could be heard clearly and the live bands and DJs played nicely with the energy from the crowd. Surrounded by like-minded individuals, fresh food, diverse programming, well presented stalls and good weather, all in all it was a perfect day.

Heads up to all the people who made it possible, the clean up crew, and to all the speakers and performers.

Of Mice And Marijuana

Traditionally, in some cultures the elderly smoke cannabis. This is reported to help an elder convey knowledge of the tribe’s culture. It turns out that this is not such a bad idea today.

A research group led by Andreas Zimmer of the University of Bonn in Germany, studied the mammalian endocannabinoid system (the indiginous cannabis system in all mammals.) This is involved in stabilizing the stress responses of our body. THC’s effect on this system generally causes us to calm down.

Studies in mice

Scientists found that mice grow older sooner–with genetic mutations that disrupt the functioning of the endocannabinoid system–than mice that have no mutations. The cognition of mice with genetic mutations also deteriorated at a higher rate, as a result, Zimmer wondered if stimulation of the endocannabinoid system would have an opposite effect.

The young mice from the control group that did not receive THC performed much better than the middle and elderly control group mice. But the middle and older mice who received THC performed as well as the young mice, without THC.

Further studies showed that THC stimulates the number of brain cell connections in the hippocampus, a brain area involved with memory. “It’s a striking result,” says Zimmer.

Zimmer thinks his results show that too much or too little stimulation of the endocannabinoid system can be harmful. This system is most active in young mice and humans, so the additional stimulation of THC can overload it. Unlike older mice, the activity of the endocannabinoid system is decreasing, so a little bit of THC could reduce the system to an optmum level.

Studies in people

The results from the research are not so surprising, according to pharmacologist David Nutt of Imperial College London, who specializes in neuropsychology. Animal studies have shown that the cannabinoids produced in the body have beneficial effects on the brain. Nutt and his colleagues have also found that the use of THC can protect alcoholics from brain damage, caused by alcohol.

The Zimmer research team is now planning to conduct studies in humans to investigate whether older people can benefit from a small dose of THC.

Even if the researchers find the same results in humans as in mice, it’s unlikely that doctors will prescribe joints. “The dosage is important,” says Zimmer. ‘Smoking of marijuana is very different.’

Top Three Amsterdam High Views

The Netherlands are generally very flat, and while it’s easy to get high in a coffeeshop, it can prove tricky getting high geographically speaking. Here are some recommended vista points in Amsterdam, if you’re searching for that extra uplift.

1. Amsterdam ‘Look Out’ is a unique observation platform situated high atop the Amsterdam Tower in the North of the city, and only a two minute ferry ride across from Central Station. For thrill seekers there’s the ‘Over The Edge’ swings, the highest in all of Europe. Not for the feint of heart at over 100 meters high.

2. The Nemo ‘Science Museum’ is a large green building that looks like a boat, only five minutes walking distance from central station. There are steps leading up to the top deck where you can sit and enjoy the panoramic vistas of Amsterdam North, East and West. If you’re discrete, you can put one in the sky for old captain Nemo and Jules Verne.

3. Amsterdam Library was recently moved to a new building just to the left, when walking out of Central Station. The stunning library features a restaurant on the top floor, which leads out to a viewing balcony to enjoy the sights.

Juneau, Alaska’s ‘New Amsterdam’?

Could Alaska’s capital, Juneau become one of the biggest destinations for pot tourism in the world? The City and marijuana retailers are hopeful.

If the state allows smoking lounges, Juneau’s city manager says Alaska’s Amsterdam could be even bigger for pot tourism than the real one.

“We want to be the Amsterdam of Alaska,” said Giono Barrett, co-owner of Rainforest Farms, a cannabis store in downtown Juneau. “There’s a lot more going on up here for adventure, they want to see mountains and whales and an ocean and glaciers. So, we have all of that right out of our port– you can access it within 20 minutes of getting off your ship– including the cannabis.”

It’s an attraction with a catch. While it is legal to buy pot in Juneau, there’s no legal place for tourists to smoke because cruise ships sail in federal waters. “Since it’s a federal crime, that’d be a big problem,” said cruise ship passenger Greg Smith, of California.

(Full story: http://www.ktva.com/juneau-amsterdam-alaska-759)

Amsterdam Style Coffeeshops In Las Vegas?

Several US states have legalized recreational use of cannabis but no state has yet created a state-sanctioned place for adults to legally consume cannabis. This leaves many consumers with no place to enjoy legal cannabis as no state permits public consumption. A bill in Nevada could make it the first state to allow for cannabis clubs.

”One can imagine a few social use clubs fitting in on the Las Vegas strip. Las Vegas could become the US-version of Amsterdam or Barcelona, where cannabis consumers can enjoy their product at a cafe or bar”, says Daniel Shortt from Cannalawblog.com

Senate Bill 236 would grant cities and counties authority to issue licenses to businesses wishing to allow cannabis use at their premises or to hold special events where cannabis use is permitted. Cities and counties would have the ability to establish an application process and create rules for these businesses. These businesses could not be located within 1,000 feet of a school or community facility, defined as a daycare, playground, public swimming pool, recreation center, place of worship, or drug or alcohol rehabilitation facility. Businesses could not allow consumption of marijuana in public view and could not allow individuals under 21 to enter the business or special event where marijuana is consumed. These licensed businesses could be the cannabis clubs that recreational states have been missing.

Legalization initiatives in California and Maine may allow for cannabis clubs, but those states have not drafted regulations addressing cannabis clubs. Alaska experimented with the idea of cannabis clubs but ultimately has not permitted such clubs. Oregon and Washington explicitly prohibit consumption of marijuana at a place of business. Some towns and counties in Colorado allow private clubs where individuals can consume cannabis but they are subject to local rules and regulations. For example, the City of Denver passed Initiative 300 last November to allow businesses to permit cannabis consumption, but the program has yet to be fully implemented.

(Full story: http://www.cannalawblog.com/cannabis-clubs-will-nevada-lead-us)

About Vaporizing

Vaporizers in Amsterdam

Besides smoking, vaporizing is a popular way to consume cannabis in Amsterdam coffeeshops. With a device called a vaporizer you can heat up weed and sometimes hashish, to a specific temperature at which the active ingredients in cannabis evaporate. This temperature (229c) is well below the point of combustion, keeping the weed from igniting.

In short, a vaporizer more-or-less  ‘steams’ your weed as opposed to burning it. Thus, when vaporizing the active ingredients, no smoke is created. People who do not smoke may still ”vape”.

In the Netherlands, some coffeeshops have in-house vaporizers which are offered as a free service, if you purchase something from the weed counter.

Over the years a number of smaller, hand held vaporizers were developed that make it possible to vape’ out and about. These devices are usually USB charged. While some versions are made specifically for dry herbs, other models allow for the use of concentrates like wax, shatter and honey oil.

Vaporizing is arguably less damaging than regular smoking, producing less second hand smoke, and it is a preferred method for medical cannabis users.

Race For Holland’s First Drive-Through Coffeeshop

Amsterdam’s New West District and the City Council have given the green light for the opening of a new coffeeshop near Sloterdijk Station.

Local news channel, AT5 reports that according to district manager Achmed Baâdoud, it will be a ”drive-in coffeeshop”, where you can pick up weed in your car, like a fast food drive-through.

A previously proposed drive-through coffeeshop by The Bulldog met with  fierce opposition. This was because the location of the coffeeshop in the capitol’s harbor area was too close to schools. But this does not apply to the location at Sloterdijk station. “There are no schools and residents affected by the arrival,” Baoudoud explained to Dutch newspaper de Telegraaf.

Utrecht

In the city of Utrecht, music producer and activist Chris Pilgram proposed a drive-through coffeeshop as a solution to concerns of some people in the city regarding coffeeshops and cannabis tourism.

Pilgram’s citizens initiative maintains that a drive-through coffeeshop located near the outskirts of the city, would help prevent ‘weed shoppers’ heading into the heart of the city, providing an alternative, licensed cannabis outlet.

Pilgram campaigned for over 10 years to open a drive-through, but has encountered resistance from officials who he feels have held up the plan for spurious reasons.

Recently however, ruling political parties VVD, D66 and SP gave their support to the idea, and now even want to “speed up” the process. The Mayor of Utrecht, Jan van Zanen stated that he will come up with a adequate response to the situation very soon.

Rotterdam

Meanwhile the SP in Rotterdam proposed its own plan for a  drive-through coffeeshop to help solve the problems of long coffeeshop queues, street traffic and extra road traffic in their city . These nuisances are the given reason for closing nine coffeeshops in Rotterdam over the last six years.

A majority of the municipality’s council has voted for a  two-year trial with a cannabis pick-up point, which is intended only for costumers with a motor vehicle. “In any case, let’s try to see if the pressure on the coffeeshops in our city will actually decrease, as the initiators suspect,” says local SP Chairman, Leo de Kleijn.

Recreational Or Medical Cannabis?

In the Netherlands, medical cannabis is regulated and legally prescribed by family doctors, so long as the patients can prove other treatments do not work. These prescriptions are dispensed by the patient’s local pharmacy.

Since 2003, medicinal cannabis has been prescribed as a remedy for various complaints, in trhe process making Holland Europe’s largest manufacturer and distributor of medical cannabis.

Operating under contract for the Ministry of Health, Dutch company Bedrocan is the only producer of cannabis certified by the European Union, and so the only supplier of medical cannabis in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe.

Recreational marijuana, in contrast with medical marijuana, is not legal but is never the less available to anyone in the Netherlands who can prove they are over 18. Surprisingly, with the medical program in place, a growing number of medical patients still rely on coffeeshops to obtain their medicine.

Several Dutch Health Insurance companies took medical cannabis out of their package in 2016 and no longer cover the costs, causing more patients to look to the coffeeshop as an alternative. The mayor of Amsterdam, together with unsatisfied patients have called for better policy that makes medical cannabis easier to get.

Professor Of Criminology: ”Stop Closing Coffeeshops”

”The municipality should not close any more coffeeshops in the city centre, even if they are too close to a school.” says Dirk Korf, professor of criminology.

Research conducted by Korf at the Bonger Institute for Criminology, affiliated with the University of Amsterdam, concludes: “It’s too busy in the remaining coffeeshops.”.

While the government claims one of the major objectives of the Dutch drugs policy is to : ”diminish public nuisance (the disturbance of public order and safety in the neighbourhood)”, the lines with waiting costumers outside the still existing coffeeshops are getting longer each year..

“Due to the crowds it is hardly possible to provide information.” says Joachim Helms, the president of the association of cannabis attorneys, who echoes the findings of Professor Korf.

Korf, professor of criminology, recommends that Amsterdam should not close any more coffeeshops in the inner city, even if they are too close to a school. “The policy must be haulted” he says.

A city spokesperson announced that the report will be discussed by the Mayor of Amsterdam and his staff.

“Cannabis Has Been Wronged For Years”

“Cannabis has been wronged for years”, says Janna Cousijn, researcher at the University of Amsterdam. “toking every day does not have to be a problem.”

Cannabis use has been thwarted by stereotypes for decades, ranging from false claims of it causing uncontrollable sexual impulses and murderous insanity, to it creating a whole generation of lazy, good-for-nothing ‘slackers’.

Biological Psychologist, Neuropsychologist, Cousijn, has been conducting rigorous studies on the effects of cannabis use, in her role as assistant professor in Clinical Developmental Neuroscience. She explains to Amsterdam newspaper Parool: “A lot of cannabis research compares tokers with non-users. I look at differences within the group of regular tokers; people who smoke weed almost every day. I’ve found that some are addicted and have problems, and some don’t. Rough estimates say that half are fulfilling a job, with a family, and the other half are getting into trouble.”

Cousijn says her latest study helps to distinguish between regular cannabis users and those with a dependence. And at the same time tests the validity and clinical value of the laboratory research methods, in real-life settings. These studies help to advance knowledge on the underlying behavioral and neural mechanisms at play, and focus upon approach-bias within different contexts.

Remarkably, Cousijn, in a passing comment when asked if she uses cannabis herself, seems to play into the generalization which she refutes in her study, when saying: “No, never. I do not like to lose control. I always want to have the cleanest disposition of my own mind and body. Hard work may be my addiction.