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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.

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.

Dabs Honey Oil Butter Shatter Glass?

Dabbing is the act of applying heat to a cannabis concentrate, most often by way of a dab-rig, a device much like a conventional bong or water pipe, but equipped with a special nail to hold the substance. There are different terms for what is smoked, including wax, earwax, dab, shatter, butter, glass and honey oil.

There are two main kinds of oil based on how they are made, Butane Hash Oil BHO, and Alcohol Hash Oil AHO. Both methods help to extract the desired concentrate.

The dabbing substances can have a very high THC content and are rich in terpenes and terpenoids, organic compounds which help amplify the aromas and flavors.

The ability to isolate specific chemicals, such as CBD and THC, when produced, make dabs and oils favored by medicinal marijuana patients. Highly concentrated forms of CBD (a substance with many health benefits but without the ‘high’ produced by THC) for example, are created by these same methods of extraction.

Due to the strict regulations in Dutch coffeeshops, and the fact that cannabis oil is a scheduled substance in the Netherlands, you cannot purchase extracts and concentrates that contain THC.

Cannabidiol (CBD), what is it?

Cannabidiol CBD is one of the active compounds found in Cannabis. CBD has a wide scope of potential medical applications and is used as a remedy for a growing amount of ailments including MS, arthritis, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, diabetes, alcoholism, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, and other neurological disorders.

CBD has many health benefits, but unlike its better known counterpart, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), it lacks the psychoactive effect associated with cannabis.

With CBD available in increasing strenghts and with a wide range of CBD products on the market including food, candy, drinks and body care products, there are now many ways people can try this cannabis extract and receive its benefits.

Coffeeshops Legal or Permitted?

Amsterdam is known to be a liberal city. Although many people exaggerate the freedom here, the Amsterdammers and Dutch in general do have a few liberties that are unique in the world. Still, whenever you visit a city in a foreign country it is always a good idea to inform yourself about the local laws and rules. In Amsterdam’s case this can be a difficult task, therefore this article will try to inform you about the basics of the Dutch legislation and specific things you should know about Amsterdam and its Coffeeshops.

In the Netherlands we distinguish between two types of drugs: soft and hard drugs. By law both of them are illegal, but the use and possession of small amounts of soft drugs is decriminalized and regulated. This led the Dutch to having a unique drugs policy in the world. Although the use of addictives in general is discouraged, the Dutch politics reasoned that cannabis does not have physically addictive qualities, and are not more harmful than, say, alcohol. Therefore the Netherlands allow limited forms of possession and trade in soft-drugs.

The specific rules are as follows:
• You are allowed to purchase and possess up to five grams of cannabis. Possessing more is interpreted as if you want to trade it, which is illegal.
• Only specially permitted “Coffeeshops” are allowed to sell soft drugs, and never more than five grams per person per day. You have to be 18 or over to access a Coffeeshop.

The paradox in the Dutch drugs policy is that the growing and trading of large amounts of soft drugs is illegal and not allowed, yet Coffeeshops still need to buy their stock. This phenomenon is referred to as the “back door/ front door” paradox: Coffeeshops are allowed to sell (and pay taxes for it), but can not legally buy stock.

It is not illegal to smoke outside the Coffeeshop, but things have changed over the past few years, and it is no longer acceptable to smoke cannabis just everywhere.

Restricted areas around Central Station and the Red Light District have a “zero tolerance” policy. In other areas in Amsterdam where it is forbidden to smoke Marijuana, official “no-pot-smoking” street signs will indicate this clearly.

Although you are not expected to know local regulations, you might very well risk a fine when smoking in these areas.