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Had Too Much Space Cake? Amsterdam Tourist Doctor Comes To The Rescue

When doctor Van Ommeren is called during his night shifts, he must make a quick analysis. Does it sound urgent or can it wait a while? Then he cycles to the tourist’s residence, often in the centre of Amsterdam.

His medical service for international visitors has been around for three years now. After having worked in Australia for two years, Van Ommeren returned to the Netherlands and founded HotelDoc.

In a recent interview with newspaper Parool, Van Ommeren says that “a large part of the job consists of the classic cases for a general practitioner: stomach flu, airway complaints but also – what else – cannabis.”

Space cake is usually the culprit. According to the doctor, it is striking that it is often middle-aged people make the mistake of eating too much. “They want to try some but they’re not accustomed to much [of it’s effect]. They panic, get palpitations and think they’re dying. Yesterday I was with a patient who had eaten space cake and engulfed the entire bathroom in puke. It came up to the ceiling. It didn’t help that the partner also ate space cake and was also panicking, with one inflicting the other. The only thing I can do is reassure them. Then I do a few small tests, such as measuring blood pressure. It’s not medically necessary, but it helps to reduce the panic. I only leave when they are calmed down. Usually I say: tomorrow you will laugh about it.”

Journalist, who “couldn’t feel her face” after eating spacecake, thanks coffeeshop

British journalist Yomi Adegoke wrote an open letter to employees of an Amsterdam coffeeshop, saying she’s “eternally grateful to them” because they helped her when she “couldn’t feel her face” after eating spacecake.”

Adegoke was in Amsterdam for a panel discussion and wanted to try Amsterdam’s favourite edible, space cake. She first ate a quarter of the cake, felt nothing after an hour, and then ate another quarter.

After this she decided to participate in a city walk, but she soon felt very bad. “It was as if the world was slowly collapsing,” she writes in the letter, which was published by The Guardian. She was convinced that everyone wanted to make sure she would miss her flight – which would depart two hours later.

Adegoke managed to drag herself to the nearest coffeeshop and plop down on the couch to “die softly.” She cannot remember the name of the coffee shop.
“You did not laugh at me when I asked if I would ever feel my face again,” she writes. “You gave me a drink and assured me there was no conspiracy against me.” She is “forever grateful to the coffeeshop for all the water, the sweets, and how you managed to get me to the airport in a taxi.”
But most of all Adegoke wants to thank the employees for ‘’putting up with a smug tourist, who even though she has done it all before’’.

 

Full letter:

Dear cafe staff,
You sat with me for nearly an hour, as I became the world’s worst ad for anything weed-related in front of your irked customers. That weekend – I explained as you passed me the ninth glass of water – I had been booked for a panel discussion in Amsterdam, a stay I extended by three days to convert business into pleasure, a much-needed mini-break I intended to spend almost entirely baked. To facilitate this, I went to a place that did the “best space cakes in the city”; “best”, I soon realised, meaning “the ones most likely to make me think I dropped one of my ears on the high street when running from God”.

On my last day, with a fair amount in my bloodstream already, I ate a quarter of a space cake and felt a bit tired. An hour passed; still nothing but a mild case of the munchies. And, like a spoilt child in a moralising fairytale, I decided to sate my hunger with another quarter.

It was during a walking tour of the city that the world casually began to cave in. I glanced downwards and the floor was suddenly at the tip of my nose. I then suspected I was a mere millimetre away from everyone else in the group, and that my slightest movement would send the six-year-old near me flying across the square. Slowly, I began stepping back, attracting bemused looks. The jig was up. I wasn’t concerned that they would realise I was high as a kite on the face of the moon, but that now they were “out to get me”. My backwards walk became a backwards run. The skyline began to drip on to the pavement. I became convinced of a growing conspiracy to keep me stoned enough to miss my flight home, which was in two hours.

I managed to lug myself into another coffee shop – yours – to die quietly on your couch.

“Was it something we gave you?” one of you asked, touching my forehead. And though it wasn’t, you tended to me with the bedside manner of a paediatrician caring for a child with a broken arm. You rallied around me with water, assuring me there wasn’t a conspiracy and you definitely weren’t part of one. You weren’t fussed when I pointed out that that was exactly what someone would say if involved in a conspiracy. You handed me an orange, and comforted me when I tearfully realised I had forgotten how to peel one. You suppressed smirks as I asked if I would ever feel my face again. Dazed, I asked how long I’d been there. “I’d say about eight minutes,” one of you replied. At that, I actually began to cry.

Though I can’t recall your shop’s name for obvious reasons, to you all, I am eternally grateful: for the lakes-worth of water, for the non-stop sweets, for bundling me into a cab to the airport. But most of all, for putting up with a smug tourist, who even though she has done it all before, still manages to make an absolute tit of herself in Amsterdam.

Yomi

(photo: Metro)

Dutch Christian Party (CU): No More Weed for Tourists!

CU en wiet

If political party the ChristenUnie  (CU) has her way, customers of Dutch coffeeshops will have to show an extract from their Personal Records Database records (BRP) before they can buy any weed. This proposed measure aims to ban tourists from coffeeshops and limit the acces to weed to Dutch residents only.

The idea is not new. The Dutch central government already gave municipalies the option to ban non-Dutch from their coffeeshops, but municipalities are allowed to determine whether they want to implement this rule. Many towns and cities, such as Amsterdam choose not to implement the ban and still allow tourists and other visitors of the Netherlands to buy and enjoy weed at its coffeeshops. The ChristenUnie wants to change that now. The party wants Justice and Security, minister Dutch to discuss the issue with the municipalities.
“At the moment, the Netherlands is known as the country where you go to get off and use drugs,” says MP Stieneke van der Graaf (CU). “That is horrible and shameful and I want to do everything to break that image as a drug country.”

Drugs and drug tourists cause too much trouble in our country, the politician believes. “Keeping tourists away from coffeeshops is a good start to tackle that nuisance.” Van der Graaf also considers it important that all municipalities apply the same criteria. “Otherwise you are only moving the problem.”

Illegal circuit

Ferry de Boer from the BCD, a branch organization for coffeeshop entrepreneurs, does not think that keeping tourists out of coffeeshops is a good idea. According to de Boer, the demand for cannabis does not disappear and this way you only chase consumers into the street. “This has already been happened in the city of Maastricht, where [after the ban] the number of illegal outlets has increased enormously.” An increase in illegal trade is not desirable for anyone, De Boer says. It would only aggravate the nuisance.

The coffeeshops were created to separate drug markets [to separate hard drugs from soft drugs consumption], he says. De Boer sees the refusal of tourists as a step back. It dates back to the time when there were hardly any coffeeshops. Then everything was sold from the illegal circuit and the Netherlands faced a major heroin problem. “There were parts of Amsterdam where you couldn’t walk as an ordinary citizen,” he says. With the arrival of the first tolerated cannabis, the situation changed. “The tolerance policy displaced the hard drug trade” with the coffeeshop as “safe haven”.

According to Van der Graaf, the increase in street trafficking of cannabis in Maastricht was not so disproportionate that it is a reason not to maintain the resident criterion. “The police were prepared for this and the illegal trade was quickly suppressed. Of course we have to take this into account, but it is not an argument for the long term. ”

Lots of police work

De Boer believes that closing the coffeeshops for tourists, and the associated growth of the illegal market, will cause major problems. “Maintaining something like this is going to require a huge amount of police work, and there is already a shortage of thieves.” In addition, making it mandatory to show a BRP would raise the threshold to go to a coffeeshop. This could also force the Dutch on to the illegal market.

It is not yet clear whether the minister will respond to the call of the ChristenUnie.

Exhibition ‘The ABC of CBD’ at the Hash Museum Amsterdam

The ABC of CBD

From July 11th to until January 26th, The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam proudly presents Europe’s first exhibition about CBD. In “The ABC of CBD”, the museum takes you on a journey through the many applications to the source of this mysterious molecule.

Cannabis for wellness

CBD (short for cannabidiol), is one of the active ingredients in cannabis, a herb which people have used for centuries thanks to its healing propertiesIn “The ABC of CBD” the museum turns the spotlight on the aspect of the cannabis plant that aids your body rather than expands your mind. Cannabidiol is primarily used for pain relief, to reduce tension, and against sleeplessness. Research into this substance is increasing, and the results all suggest the same: CBD has a positive effect on the body and contributes to a general feeling of well being. However, the acceptance of CBD products is still challenged by the controversy that surrounds the cannabis plant, and its legal status worldwide. There is still a long way to go.

Cannabis Liberation Day 2018

Come and celebrate the tenth anniversary of Cannabis Liberation Day with us on Sunday, June 17 in Flevopark, Amsterdam.

Cannabis Liberation Day highlights international cannabis culture and argues in favor of tolerance and broad use of hemp as a sustainable raw material and counteracts criminalization of the plant, cannabis consumers, coffeeshops and growers.

New at Cannabis Liberation Day this year is the ‘Cannabis Olympics’. There are ‘five playful games, including Bungee Run and Stonede Stormbaan [stoner obstacle course]’. The first 500 participants win a ‘cannabis medal’.

As usual access is free. Check www.cannabisliberationday.org for details.

Exhibition ‘Cannabis Cuisine’ at Hash Museum Amsterdam

Everyone knows you can eat cannabis. Space cake from Amsterdam coffeeshops is world-famous, but did you know life expectancy of residents in the Chinese town of Bama Yao is well above 100? Scientists believe the secret behind this long lifespan has something to do with their diet, which contains a lot of hemp seeds.

Although the cannabis sativa is mainly known for its flowers, which can be smoked, it is also proving to be a versatile source of nutrition. Nowadays, hemp seeds are available at any supermarket and in recent years, CBD oil has been on the rise as a nutritional supplement. In the exhibition Cannabis Cuisine (1 December 2017 – 25 February 2018), the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam explores the history of cannabis in nutrition, lists the healthy qualities of hemp and follows the latest trends in high cuisine.

Address: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 130, Amsterdam

Budget Space-Cake

Amsterdam can be damn expensive, so for those wishing to get high on a budget we suggest homemade space cake.

Step 1: Do some research. If you have not tried smoking cannabis before, please do not dive straight into making your own space cake. Edibles purchased at a coffeeshop are made with a strict and precise dose, so for first timers we recommend space cake from a coffeeshop.

Step 2: Get some soft blond hash, or the least expensive ‘soft’ hash available, avoid black hash, it sticks to your teeth easily.

Step 3: Purchase your favorite muffin, brownie or even a chocolate bar for around 1 euro or less.

Step 4: Taking care, split the candy bar in half using a knife or your fingers, if possible.

Step 5: Sprinkle the hashish on half the candy bar. (Coffeeshops generally put 0.3 grams into space cakes, aim for a similar amount.

Step 6: Enjoy the journey, and please remember to keep something sweet on your person, in case you get too high and wish to maintain a lower altitude.

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Birth Of The Coffeeshops

[…] I’ve always been fascinated by the origins of the cannabis tolerance movement in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. How did this happen? How did this little country develop the most intelligent approach to marijuana smoking in the entire world?

At the same time that Holland launched its tolerance campaign, we passed local legislation in Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Ypsilanti that limited marijuana crime punishment to a $5 fine, but our movement never went any further than that until medical marijuana was legalized in 2008.

Amsterdam and the Netherlands went on to establish a system that allowed hundreds of coffeeshops to serve marijuana and hashish smokers for what’s turned out to be almost 50 years.

Here’s how the Anne Bonney, writer of Cannabis in Holland—an Introduction: A Book of Cannabis Truths, says it happened.

HASH HITS EUROPE

     Along with the political and social unrest of the 1960’s came a huge explosion in the use of Cannabis and psychedelics. Another part of the cultural upheaval was travel.

Many young Europeans left the comforts of home or university to travel to the exotic East. In those days the world political situation was such that one could drive (or in some cases, hitchhike) from Europe to Tangiers, Delhi or Kabul and many did.

On their travels the young adventurers adopted many foreign practices—from meditation to vegetarianism and hashish smoking. Soon large quantities of hashish began to find their way back to Western Europe, with Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Copenhagen and other cities becoming consumption and distribution centers.

THE COFFEESHOPS ARE BORN

     By the early 1970’s there was widespread use of Cannabis, speed, heroin, LSD and other recreational drugs presenting various degrees of health risks to Dutch citizens….

The then Minister of Health and Interior, Irene Vorink….concluded that Cannabis was considerably less harmful than the other drugs….Vorink saw that the most common way for Cannabis users to be introduced to drugs “harder” than Cannabis was by the drug sellers themselves.

She took the step of recommending that the authorities stop prosecuting people for the consumption and sales of personal amounts of Cannabis. She then set up a system where access was provided to cannabis in a controlled setting. To do this, she took advantage of existing youth centers as places to permit the sales of small amounts of hashish and marijuana….

The basic concept of the coffeeshop as a place to buy and smoke Cannabis, hang out, have a (non-alcoholic) drink, chat or play a game, has been around since 1971.

That was when the first youth hostel started ignoring smoking and small-scale dealing. It was the government-tolerated selling and smoking in youth centers that provided the model for the coffeeshops of today.

Mila Jansen started a teahouse where people hung out, drank tea and smoked a nice spliff. The first joints were handed out for free as an extra with your cup of tea. Also, people from other countries brought back hashish and other products, so they could trade products with each other.

In 1973, Wernard and three friends opened a small “Tea House” called Mellow Yellow where a single “house-dealer” sold pre-bagged hash and grass from behind the bar rather than the old style where the house simply allowed deals and smoking to go on. Mellow Yellow also sold tea and coffee and had a table football game.

In 1974 Henk de Vries opened the Bulldog Coffeeshop, soon to become world famous, and openly sold hash [as] the first business to use the name “coffeeshop.”
[Note: The coffeeshops proliferated for 20 years until there were 750 or so in the city of Amsterdam alone by 1994, when the federal government began its campaign to regulate and control the traffic in Cannabis, demanding that coffeeshops apply for a license and adhere to the government’s coffeeshop rules:]

THE COFFEESHOP RULES (since 1996)

1. No advertising, including no Cannabis leaf motif in the window or on the sign.
2. No hard drugs, no buying, no selling, no possession, by owner, staff or clients.
3. No public nuisance.
4. No sale of more than five grams to any client on any day.
5. No minors. This means persons under 18.

If shop owners play by these five rules, the government will “turn a blind eye” to the fact that the business sells Cannabis. If any of the five rules are broken, then the shop owner becomes liable for a violation of the Cannabis laws [and subject to loss of license, criminal charges, and/or other punitive measures].

So those are the actual facts of the cannabis issue in Amsterdam and how it sank its roots into the general culture to insure that smokers would be able to get their sacrament. Now let’s have some coffeeshops in Michigan!

Here’s one last little factoid from the Cannabis and Coffeeshops pamphlet: Americans are generally fascinated by the way the Dutch, the British and Europeans in general mix tobacco with their weed before lighting up. I always thought this was because they started out on hashish and smoked it in a mixture with tobacco to keep the flame going. Then weed became available in the 1970s and 80s in large quantities and soon Europeans were smoking 2 grams of marijuana to each gram of hash while using the same mixture concept.

But, as the Grow Grrrlzzz point out, “At first, tobacco was a rare and special imported product, available only to the rich. The seeds were hard to find, of doubtful quality and nobody knew where or how to grow it in Europe. Eventually tobacco became available to enough people that the entire nation [of Holland] took up the craze.

“So, the frugal Dutch began stretching their expensive imported tobacco with the leaves and flowers of their hennep plants by the mid-1500s.” Wow. Free The Weed!

(excerpt from  John Sinclair‘s column FREE THE WEED 70. All Rights Reserved.)

Three Places In Amsterdam Where You Can Roll Up Besides Coffeeshops

In Amsterdam there are quite a few places that don’t sell weed yet allow you to roll up freely. Here you can enjoy a toke, and feast your senses on the delights these 420-friendly establishments have to offer.

1. Bars and Restaurants

Restaurants
There are coffeeshops in Amsterdam where top-notch breakfast, lunch or diner is served daily, but even more exclusive are the restaurants that don’t sell cannabis, but cater for smokers specifically. A great example is Munchies restaurant where meals are served along with a well packed vaporizer, if you so desire.

Bars
Beer and buds, whiskey and weed? It’s all possible at Amsterdam’s smoker-friendly bars. In these establishments you can’t buy weed, but they’ll let you roll up. Many bars even have complimentary papers available. For example: The Doors Palace, Batavia, The Wonder Bar, Barnies Uptown, Susie’s Salon, Cafe Soundgarden, Kashmir Lounge, and Lost In Amsterdam. (a word to the wise: keep your cigarettes out of sight in any bars or coffeeshop).

2. Clubs
Back in the day, most clubs and venues in Amsterdam would let you smoke on the dance floor, but after a new tobacco law took effect, tokers found themselves exiled to the smoking area, together with the cigarette fans. Smoking joints is generally fine in the smoking areas but if you have your doubts, just ask (or smell).

3. In Public
It may come as a surprise, but once you’re outdoors in Amsterdam you can smoke weed almost anywhere (with the exception of the Red Light District and Central Station). You can light up at a picnic in the park or during a stroll along the canal, there’s no rule against smoking in public albeit, with common courtesy.

Weed Demand Outweighs Secret Supply Of Coffeeshops

Dutch Coffeeshops are under increasing pressure and scrutiny over the amount of cannabis stock they can hold, due to an ever growing demand for the drug. In general coffeeshops are allowed a maximum of 500 grams, which sells quickly in a busy shop. The supplier, known as a ‘runners’, may find themselves resupplying the same shop many times a day, risking arrest with every run, if caught in the street, or at their stash pad.

The paradoxical situation revolves around the back-door supply chain, which is illegal but tolerated under strict conditions, together with the question of where to store the stock (usually inside a secret room). Both these grey areas in the law leave coffeeshop owners in constant uncertainty, with the ongoing threat of prosecution. While the problem of nuisance in the cities increases as coffeeshops are closed. Welcome to the paradox of Dutch coffeeshop culture.

Coffeeshop ‘nemo’ in Rotterdam was the largest in the city, and it remains closed after two years since the authorities discovered excess amount of stock on the premises.

“After the municipality decided that no coffeeshops were allowed within a 250-meter radius of the school, 16 were closed. Many customers then came to Nemo. That’s why I had such a large stock.” said Mr. Ilonka Kamans, Lawyer representing coffeeshop Nemo.

Maurice Veldman, a lawyer in Amsterdam highlights a similar need for adjusting the stock limits in Amsterdam and points out that the municipalities of Utrecht and Maastricht allow for one kilo of cannabis stock, due to precisely this higher demand that is caused by the closure of so many coffeeshops. “The increase in demand is largely due to the closure of coffee shops […]”, Veldman said.