Let them eat cake!
…or maybe not.
To begin, I’d like to explain my stance on Marijuana
I think it should be legal, but I don’t think it’s worth get arrested to smoke, and generally I have no interest in smoking it.
I don’t condone smoking it or ingesting any other types of drugs, but after quite a bit of research I don’t believe that Marijuana is any more harmful than alcohol, and it actually has some significant medical benefits, so it doesn’t make sense for it to be illegal in my personal opinion. That being said, I have had to opportunity to try it legally on past trips to The Netherlands (one of my favorite places – and not because of the cannabis) and this is about my last visit.
What is “Greening Out”?
Greening Out is what happens when a person has too much marijuana in their system. The symptoms can include anxiety, paranoia, nausea, and vomiting. Not fun. Check out this website for a little more info.
A while ago I was on a 5-week trip around Europe, part of which was spent with a rag-tag tour of of twenty-somethings (mostly) whose main goal was to drink their way through the historical likes of Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain, among others.
There’s nothing wrong with that as far as I’m concerned. We were in a new country almost every day, so really getting immersed in the culture was just next to impossible. At most we managed to dip in our toes to test the waters, only to be unceremoniously yanked away by the sound of the alarm clock and rumble of the tour bus engine. So, why not party our way through some of the world’s most beautiful cities?
Smoking in Amsterdam should be a chill experience
You may have noticed that The Netherlands or Amsterdam were not included on the list of places mentioned above. That’s because (and anyone who knows anything about Amsterdam or The Netherlands will know this) when you visit the lovely Dutch people, drinking is not the first thing you plan on doing.
For those who don’t know, The Netherlands is famous for a few reasons:
The tulips, the red light district, and legal marijuana. Guess which one my tour-mates were planning on experiencing? If you guessed the famous Mary Jane, you’re correct.
As someone who (after much research and consideration) thinks the illegality of marijuana in most countries is ridiculous, I was also looking forward to hunkering down in a coffee shop with a few friends for an extremely relaxing, giggle-filled afternoon. And it started out just that way…
Me and a couple others wandered around the city center of Amsterdam in search of our perfect coffee shop.
There are several coffee shops on almost every street in Amsterdam, so you don’t have to look far, but we wanted to go somewhere a little less crowded. We ended up at a random little coffee shop down a quiet street called Soft Temple.
We entered the dimly-lit room, nearly filling it with the two other customers that were in front of us. A steep, spiral staircase on the far side of the room led to the upper floor, and a small L-shaped desk sat tucked in one corner, a couple lists of marijuana “flavors” spread out on its surface. Next to one list was a glass, cake container, showcasing what looked to be chocolate and vanilla cake slices.
The owner greeted us with with a smile, and on hearing that we were American and Canadian, proceeded to explain the options in perfect English. We had decided earlier that we didn’t want to smoke that afternoon, but that we did want to try the cake. So we agreed to share two slices of cake between the three of us – one chocolate, one vanilla.
Note: Edibles are strong
Happy with our purchase we made our way upstairs to find a tiny sitting area. Cushioned benches lined the walls, and two small, wooden tables sat close by, covered in the remains of expired joints, left behind by past smokers.
We huddled onto one bench and proceeded to split the slices of cake. The chocolate cake was our favorite, with the vanilla still being slightly… grassy. We each also made of point of whipping out our smart phones and checking into the coffee shop via Facebook. Touristy as all hell, I know. But we were tourists.
After finishing our cake, we decided it was time to grab some real food, and then join up with the rest of our group.
I don’t know if it was Amsterdam’s cake or the Chinese food, but things went downhill from there.
As the short, Chinese woman behind the counter pursed her lips at us, glowering at our unsuccessful attempts to quiet our laughter, we knew that the cake had taken effect.
Then the paranoia set in.
I told myself I would not “freak-out” but also made a point of not talking to anyone, so I was kinda freaking out. My travel-mates were pretty much in pure panic mode. I tried to ignore them. Not to be mean, but when you’re also high, it’s hard to help someone else. And I had to concentrate on keeping myself calm.
What followed was a night of panic, laughter, wide-eyed questions and worry, complete relaxation, and puke. It’s become one of my favorite memories from the trip, mostly because it seems pretty funny – now.
I don’t remember getting back to the hotel room.
Apparently one of my friends threw up in the lobby. Yea. I don’t remember that.
I have a vague memory of getting into the elevator and trying to act normal. Since all I was doing was standing still, I’m not sure how I thought I could “act” any more normal. It was probably like a scene from a movie where someone says “act natural!” and then the group does something completely not normal, like suddenly breaking out into a game of “paddycake, paddycake, baker’s man…”
We didn’t play paddycake… At least not that I remember.
I was pretty successful in staying calm. I can’t say that I’ve ever believed so fully that I was sleeping on a literal cloud before. Like a literal, flying cloud.
The morning after
As we piled onto the bus again the next morning (some people still red-eyed and dazed) I found out that at least one other person on my tour also got sick from smoking too much. There’s something to be learned from that, I think.
It’s nothing new. The Dutch government was considering making it illegal to smoke unless you were a Dutch citizen. Instead, they ended up leaving it up to city governments, and many cities did ban tourists smoking. Don’t worry, Amsterdam didn’t.
Why was the government going to ban it? Because tourists simply smoke too much and end up getting sick right in the middle of downtown. Not cool. Amsterdam, with its calm canals, friendly atmosphere, and decidedly Dutch architecture is a beautiful city and the Dutch people want to keep it that way.
For the Dutch, smoking pot seems to be very similar to going to get a drink with a friend. It’s not something to overdo. It’s something to enjoy socially.
So, go, frolick, enjoy the incredible country that is The Netherlands, but…
Respect the Dutch laws in return for getting to experience such a unique place. Stay in the coffee shops when you smoke, and remember that the Dutch marijuana is strong so take it easy.
The first time I went to The Netherlands, I did smoke and I was sharing a joint (you do not need one all to yourself to feel it) with my boyfriend who was Dutch and we were just sitting on a bench, enjoying the afternoon. Still, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy your joint indoors and enjoy the high later walking through a park or chillin’ on a canal boat.
Just be responsible about it. It can get out of hand fast, so relax and take partying one step at a time. Don’t miss out on Amsterdam by overdoing it.
Honestly, the charm of Amsterdam is not in the pot. It’s a cool experience, but literally the least interesting thing about Amsterdam. This city oozes awesomeness in every other form: food, nightlife, architecture, people watching, history, scenery. Amsterdam is one of my all-time favorite cities. And it has nothing to do with legal marijuana.