The Coffee Shops and the 2014 High Times Cannabis Cup

I just returned from the High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, and thought I might share some thoughts about the state of the legalization efforts in the Netherlands, as contrasted to the US.

The Coffee Shops

Amsterdam is famous for its coffee shops, where those over 18 are permitted to purchase and enjoy marijuana. But in recent years the Dutch government has taken steps to close a few of the shops, and limit the amount which one can purchase to five grams from any one shop. Yet, despite these changes, coffee shops remain plentiful and high quality marijuana remains convenient to anyone in Amsterdam.

Importantly for us Americans, contrary to the public statements issued by government officials in recent months declaring the coffee shops are off-limits to foreigners, fear not; there are coffee shops in nearly every block in downtown Amsterdam and I visited at least eight of them during my five days in the country, and never once did anyone ask if I were a citizen of the Netherlands. And in many of the coffee shops I visited, there were several other American tourists also enjoying this unique experience, along with plenty of locals as well.

To read the balance of this column, please go to

35 thoughts

  1. Maastricht in Limburg Province was received massive complaints from its downtown inhabitants about all the foreigners clogging up the streets and taking up all the parking, so they wanted to move their coffeeshops to the outskirts of town on the Belgian side, and then the Belgians bitched, pissed, and moaned, so now you need to be a resident, basically if you go to a coffeeshop in Limburg.

    And I read in the Dutch newspaper Het Parool that lord mayor of Amsterdam shut down the High Times Cannabis Cup Amsterdam at the Radion dance club because that club didn’t have the exploitation permit (exploitatievergunning)and that someone filed the application only 12 days before the event was to begin. Dutch authorities easily take several months just to process your residency permit (verblijfsvergunning) or whatever kind of permit. And the lord mayor was pissed that the same outfits that in past years were selling weed and giving away free samples at the Cup were back again this time.

    I don’t know if that’s been going on the entire time since the beginning of High Times’ Cannabis Cup in Mokum but Minister Ivo Opstelten has been exerting his prohibitionist influences on as many people and jurisdictions as he can.

    Have you enlisted the help of Nol van Schaik, and considered moving the Cup to Haarlem? It’s not that far away. Utrecht also has its own Cannabis Cup at its Jaarbeurs trade center. Both cities are super easy to get to by train from Centraal Station in Amsterdam. You just need a hotel back in Amsterdam the night before you leave because trains don’t run at all hours between the cities.

  2. I posted this at but it bears repeating.


    Howard Wooldridge is working to get the UN to change its stance on drugs and particularly cannabis to some effect. He recently hosted a German and French delegation to Colorado to see how things were going there. The two delegations were favorably impressed.

    You can expect to see his report here:

    in a few days. If you want to get the reports earlier sign up for his newsletter.

  3. @Oracle;
    It sounds a little less like “Prohibitionist” behavior and more like old fashioned Dutch pride and sovereignty and the fate of the sacred parking space. The United States built our parking lots in paradise long after the horse-drawn carriage, so I don’t believe we have the same problems as Amsterdam.
    What interest me in comparison to Holland is that they are have much tighter, smaller border security issues. Germany has traditionally been as prohibitionist as the U.S. up until recent times, making it very risky to forget a seed in your pocket when traveling to and from.
    Here in the U.S., by contrast, we suffer from the Republican rhetoric of “securing our borders first,” while our domestic drug policy deports locally bred gangsters without telling their country of deportation the criminal records of the deportee. Then we wonder why we have child refugees flocking across the border? Our border is MUCH larger and MUCH more dynamic in comparison to Holland when we consider the hemp coming from Canada and the marijuana coming from Mexico while demand for cannabis grows in a new domestic cannabis industry.
    Furthermore, Dutch law technically says marijuana is illegal but “tolerated,” which is clearly not what we’re aiming for here in the U.S. We want commercially taxed, small farm subsidized and free residential personal use of all forms of cannabis.
    I guess we all have to deal with our own legal and cultural hypocrisies. It’s a fine line between being proud and being too proud…

  4. I was in Colorado in September and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The benefits to health and sense of wellbeing are so significant, and the myths that prevent it from being legal worldwide are so illogical that it becomes a human rights issue.

  5. @Julian

    The Netherlands is a signatory to the Schengen Agreement, which means there are No border checkpoints. It’s like driving from one state to another in the CONUS. German Police run patrols on the border routes, and profile people then pull them over to search the vehicles, catching Little fish, mainly day trippers going to kofieshops to load up for themselves, family and friends then back home again. You can get wiet and hasj in Görlitzer Park in Berlin; it’s like Washington Park in The Big Apple, sold mostly by (illegal) immigrants.

    Among the things you mentioned about commercially produced and taxed cannabis products legal in the US, I would like to emphasize that I want the sale of viable cannabis seeds to be legal, also!!!!!!!!!!

    You can get viable quality cannabis seeds in The Netherlands (Holland is only the part that was reclaimed from the sea basically)in Austria, the UK, Canada, Spain, but the feds put Marc Emery away for, they say, shipping the cannabis consumers in the US, many of whom no doubt where medical marijuana patients in states where even medical marijuana is prohibited, and they were treating themselves or self-medicating. And, the reason they were/are self-medicating is because the federal government has systematically blocked research and put up roadblocks one after the other to thwart the truth and legalisation.

    Minister Opstelten wants any cannabis product of more than 15% THC to be classified and punished by the law as a hard drug such as heroin. He definitely is a prohibitionist.

    For more, see this link to a Cannabis Culture article and the posted comments.

  6. I have lived in Colorado for several years, and even before A64, it was not a very big deal at all, though it is nice to officially have some peace of mind finally. However, it is very much a human rights issue, as I find out every time I leave to visit family in Ohio, where marijuana (even though decriminalized since the 70’s) can get you into big trouble via municipal codes in various cities. It is absolutely evil for a government with ballot initiative process to undermine the will of voters by making legislation on a city by city basis recriminalizing a plant voters chose to decriminalize. Corruption is rampant, and police have taken my marijuana and pulled down the alley to smoke it…I saw their lighters flickering in their cruiser, and saw the smoke rolling out the window and could even hear them coughing. It is scary to think that what is perfectly legal in one place is a huge deal in most of the same country. More needs to be done for sure. I feel like Anne Frank when lighting up in the privacy of a friend or relative’s house, worried overzealous police will burst through the door. (I’m a Jew also lol, so please, no calling me anti-Semitic for that comment. I’m being quite literal.)

  7. I’d like to think other nations would take note of our nations huge national debut, crumbling infrastructure, and policy of mass incarnation, and move away from the failed policy of prohibition.

  8. Amsterdam has to exist since it represents an ideal. Maybe it is a doorway to enlightenment that must remain open. Wake up America. Democracy is also ideal, not an entitlement or a patented implementation or lengthy political process, just simply a right to vote on current issues and to have your vote count towards policy within a timely fashion.

  9. Brenton says:
    December 2, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    This Jew agrees with you. You might like “Drug Warriors and Their Prey” by Miller which makes the Jewish question explicit by explaining the parallels.

  10. I spent 4 years in Belgium in the early 1990’s. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. America could benefit from the legalization of medical marijuana. The revenue to be made… I personally think crime rates would drop. I believe children who are sick, in certain circumstances, would be able to enjoy a better quality of life. There are many reasons…. thanks.

  11. @Oracle,

    Opstelten’s “15% rule” sure looks like another $neako way to protect
    nicotine addiction exploitatie biznessasusual. Modern over-15% Bud makes HBOM (hotburningoverdosemonoxide) Joint-$moking obsolete, one (1) 25-mg single toke adequately ignites the light bulb of Mind– therefore $igarette corporations (our taxpaying $ponsors heh heh) have got to be worried kids won’t get indoctrinated with the $uper $igheil lIGHTUP $ychosis anymore. Worst of all they won’t mix tobackgo in with the cannabis anymore (Tokepuur) so far fewer will get $$ hooked (uh oh).

  12. No to Vivek Murthy because he’s against cannabis legalization, typical prohibitionist stalling by claiming there isn’t enough research or evidence. I say NAY! Pick somebody else.

    Zogby does polls that indicate a majority of Americans are for cannabis legalization. That polling company founder, John Zogby, is related to the current Pennsylvania Budget Secretary Charles Zogby.

    Relation link:

    Poll link

    Pennsylvania has some huge-ass budget deficit problems. I don’t know where Charles Zogby stand personally on cannabis legalization, but his wife has had drunken driving charges and I’ll bet they wish she didn’t. Maybe if cannabis were legal in Pennsylvania she wouldn’t be a drinker.

    Here’s the link about the budge woes.

    With Tom Wolf as the incoming governor, I would hope that the Republicans such as Senator Mike Folmer (Lebanon County mostly)and others would take that last namby-pamby attempt to legalize medical marijuana in the Commonwealth one step farther and just legalize adult recreational because the medical marijuana legislation they put forth last time was incredibly restrictive as to what medical ailments and methods of administering cannabis could be used. Every prohibitionist in the state must have gotten a say in the legislation so that only children could use it in tincture form and adults with certain types of cancer and some shit but couldn’t vaporize or smoke it for immediate relief.

    I definitely don’t care for the prohibitionists wanting to sell of the state’s gambling system to Camelot, that British outfit, because they definitely would increase profits at the expense of people with gambling addictions, you know, they’re not from the state–or the States–so it’s no skin off their back, they won’t know the damage done personally by the gambling addicts who Do Not call their gambling addiction hotline. What the hell do they care?!

    The prohibitionists want to privatize the state’s liquor store system, which isn’t popular because the profit motive will increase sales at the expense of people with alcohol addictions, and poor neighborhoods, people fear, will see a bunch more of liquor stores.

    I wish Pennsylvania had TWO Mason Tverts, one a republican version and the other a democrat version: Regulate & Educate! Regulate & Fund the State!

  13. Here is a link to the Dutch Association for the Lifting of Cannabis Prohibition that you might find a good read. It’s in English and from November 26, 2014.


    Update on Dutch cannabis policy: what the hell is going on here?

    1st paragraph teaser:

    In an update on Dutch cannabis policy, VOC spokesperson Derrick Bergman tries to answer the question why a country that is (in)famous the world over for its liberal cannabis policy, has adopted a zero tolerance, war on drugs style approach, just as the rest of the world is moving towards liberalization.

  14. @Oracle
    Excellent point about access to legal , quality cannabis seeds, And I believe we would like to add; Let’s make SURE they are HEIRLOOM seeds.

    I found it very unsettling that Kentucky, being the traditional fertile ground for American hemp, had to import their hemp seed from Europe. Of course that rolled into the confrontation between Agricultural Commissioner Comer and the DEA, which Comer won with guarantees for the state of Kentucky, but giving up concessions to take Michelle Leonhart’s ass to the Supreme Court for the whole nation. (Sigh… everyone’s in it for themselves…)
    Oh well… at least we can watch the verdict of Judge Mueller over the U.S. v. Pickard et al as it transpires over this holiday season (Being fair to any Jews); I certainly look forward to that Federal case getting the issue of patenting of cannabis right into the Supreme Court, WITHOUT any influence from DuPont, Monsantos or any terminator-seed agenda they have for us…

  15. Thanks @Oracle for that stuff on the gambling connection (“Privatize” = corporatize).

    I have one friend who (regrettably) is both a gambler and an alcoholic– BOTH those “industries” are in trouble if cannabis is legalized and millions of former victims find helping @Julian make birdhouses is more fun than watching some $-ball spin around.

    Another, non-Adelson “gambling” racket: if I dress up in expensive-looking clothes and get seen praying (and donating) in Church, maybe I’ll win a better chance of getting (Gott) to heaven (Haben). Big French and German politicians connected to the Pope– shades of Adolf’s emissary, Franz von Papen, friends of the Pope, get it?– help the Church $urvive by bullying Dutch politicians over cannabis Liberalism. Dutch pols remember 1940, blitzkrieg, puppet government etc., walk the fine line/double policy.

  16. Msimon and Brenton,

    Yeah, I don’t know how many times people need to be arrested, have their life savings wiped out, lose their jobs and ability to drive and possibly get shot in a police raid and/or drug deal gone wrong before the Nazis that set this system up get revealed for all to see. All over something that is a natural, non dangerous, resource i.e. just an excuse or proxy for prosecution.

  17. Prohibitionist corruption mirrors the local police departments hiding in the bushes around the local greek houses citing young women who are trying to protect themselves from being drugged at these celebrations. I wonder how many of these male policepersons are benefiting from these greek establishments’ derogatory perspective of female competition?

  18. Als je dat over die Nazi’s zegt …

    Apropos the references to Nazis and World War II, while we’re not that kind of epitome of evil institutional racist efficiency as yet, I must say there are striking similarities in the police being able to kill its own citizens for no good reason, no compelling and rational reason, which is apparent in the raids in the name of the war on (some) drugs. Maybe the public will wise up and the silent majority will be silent no more in the wake of the police killings of people of color that have been in the news cycle recently.

    There is video footage of whole the Eric Garner case. Mayor deBlasio needs to get his dawgz under control. It’s just law enforcement overreach, excessive force, deadly force in some instances as we have seen in the news recently.

    This kind of shit just goes to show that cops do whatever the hell they damn well please and get away with it, some might say get away with murder. It is an absolute travesty of justice, and the grand juries let them off.

    This same kind of lack of respect for human life is manifested most tragically in the 60,000 deaths (probably many more) of Mexican citizens because of the militarization south of the border–Mexican cartels killing people, taking hostages, torture, mass graves. Most recently Pena-Nieto is being pressured to resign because of the missing students the local corrupt cops turned over to the (Sinaloa)cartel.

    I certainly hope that either the CNN or MSNBC miniseries are going to piece this together as it is related to cannabis prohibition, because cannabis is the most widely consumed illegal drug.

    American law enforcement is just a mess. I still can’t accept that a dog can be a police officer when it doesn’t have a badge or a gun.

    It’s a very strange world. Anyone have an inter-dimensional travel device so that I can go live in a more peaceful and sane parallel universe with cannabis being legal? A Stargate I could use to travel to a more advanced planet with a more peaceful and sane culture, and especially with a culture that has a cure for cancer. Man, I really need the cure.

  19. @Mexweed;
    Remember we agree to disagree on everything but ending prohibition 🙂 ! I still have faith that some marijuana vaporizer booths at local football stadiums might change your perspective on American football… But here on a NORML blog we’re not going to let our differences take precedence over what we can agree on. I’m glad I can still find time for football; i just wish we were giving our players some marijuana i stead of rewarding them with alcohol and pain killers.

    and… For the record… I was building camera houses that looked like birdhouses. If you want birds around my house, convince my wife to get rid of the cat! 🙂
    (Perhaps i shouldnt tell you i throw Milo out to shoot dove… Although i wish i had enough hemp seed to do the same…)

  20. @Julian, well my slogan is Eat what you Kill. If you eat the doves, o.k. (Modern cats spoiled by corporate canned meat don’t know how to eat a bird, so the killing is wasted alas.)

    If you’re after just a “sport”, here’s a painless suggestion: pigeons are somewhat related to doves. I sometimes visit a city park and pigeonfeed (though it’s sorta against the law). Just as much fun, I’d think, as shooting them. Don’t dump a lot of stuff all at once, you sit and break off a little crumb or chunk of bread, French fry, pizza etc. and toss it– they all flock. Then another one, slightly nearer, then another. Take your time, soon one or more birds are pecking at handheld pieces. Next step: they’re on your knees pecking at one piece in each hand. My “hosting” record is nine, including one on head and one on each shoulder, others on wrists and knees. A chance to observe behavior (including alpha, when one bird shoos others away) and hear the low sounds they make when eating. (World-famous place for “tame” pigeons is Piazza di San Marco, Venezia.)

    Now imagine how interesting all that is after a toke, another reason to agree on legalization!

  21. TheOracle says:
    December 5, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Well actually we are at Nazi levels of killing and it has been going on for 35 or 40 years.


    The Prohibitionists are involved in mass murder. The Reagan – Bush administration tried to suppress the finding that cannabis is effective against cancer. You can look it up. Of course the Democrats did nothing when they had a chance.

    Cannabis cures cancer. Cancer kills 586,000 Americans every year. Every Prohibitionist is complicit in mass murder.

    Pass it on.


    Now mass murder might be a bit much for your taste. So just get the fact out that cannabis cures cancer.

    Google “cannabis cures cancer” if you want more ammunition.

  22. Mexweed, humans are a predatory species. Since we already dominate all macro animals, the only option aggressive humans have is to attack other humans as all other targets have already been taken out by our over population of the planet.

    Some people enjoy abusing and killing! Which is why we need prisons for these animals. It is not a waste if that is what gives your life meaning… It just requires you to waste other people’s lives to give yours meaning.

  23. @ Mexweed and Dave,

    I am a predator, I do eat what I kill, and humans are high in all kinds of toxicity and saturated fats so they will remain off my diet.
    Taking a toke and dove hunting is an excellent experience. I HIGHly recommend it. Just make sure you go with someone experienced, aim hig stay in a straight line.. As long as you don’t pull a Cheney and shoot your hunting partner in the face, the pellets are harmless on the way down.
    Then, after popping their little dove heads off and pulling their chest meat out you can leave the rest for the cat and here’s where the real reward recipe comes in;

    Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos stuffed with Dove Meat, Monterrey Jack Cheese and Roasted hemp seeds (Optional stuffing: Cannabis variety of your choice sautéed in butter and mixed with cream cheese)
    1. Two large Jalapeno peppers for each dove serving. Cut the tail of the Jalapeno removing only the tail to maintain a bowl shape when you Slice Jalapenos lengthwise. 2. remove the jalapeno seeds.
    Add sliced or shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese and or butter-sautéed cannabis/creamcheese filling.
    3.Wrap in Bacon and stick a tooth pick through both ends sideways for oven baking or skewer for grilling.
    4. Grill or bake until bacon is thoroughly cooked and cheese caramelizes slightly. (Hint: You may want to precook the bacon slightly on a grill, especially for thick cuts, before wrapping the jalapeno. Pre-roasted hemp seeds are preferable since they wont roast well inside the cheese).
    5. Serve warm with a seasonal winter ale, a campfire or chimney fire and good friends. (Football game optional!)
    Warning: DO not serve with coke or soft-drinks as this will intensify the heat of the jalapeno, and possibly give you border line diabetes. For people with more northern palates, an Anaheim pepper may be more preferable, or a bell pepper for sissies).

  24. National Cancer Institute link’s page doesn’t mention prostate cancer, but CBDs and some cancers are affected. US medical science could be so much further along if the federal government stopped getting in the way decades ago, so in that sense the prohibitionists are fascist pigz. However, I do not want to minimize the Holocaust by making comparisons on that scale, although dispossessing people with asset forfeiture and then shipping them off to confinement is a similarity it is not the same as taking away their citizenship by declaring humans to be non-human and thus try to justify genocide. So, I do take slight umbrage at such grand scale comparisons as long as Barry is the President. Barry has been sort of a friend to the cannabis community now that he can’t laugh us off anymore. Now, if Barry would only call of the IRS dawgz, make a push to get legislation through, you know, from Rohrabacher, Polis, et alia.

    On VOC’s website they are running a story about 16 different kinds of jobs the cannabis industry has produced.

    Sounds like a great meme, enumerating them.

    As someone who has been battling cancer for years, I certainly would like medical science to be further advanced than it is. I certainly want Pennsylvania to legalize cannabis for adult recreational because any proposed legislation that has made it out of committee so far is far too restrictive. That way we all could get our medicine anyway.

  25. Btw Mexweed,
    I dont think cats are corporate material; they’re too solitary. They’ll eat the $#!+ out of your songbirds if you dont watch them. Kust give them leftovers from the hunt and some catnip and maintain a stable relationship. They’re arrogant little bastards, but they do get rid of pests 🙂

  26. @ Oracle,
    Do you ever wonder if the compromise we’re going to have to make with our government to end prohibition is some kind of international immunity from prosecution to the executive partcipants and Congressman who vote us out of prohibition?
    It seems to me like a way to immediately stop the holocaust, allow Federal bans on cannabis research and banking to be lifted and stop making more dangerous compromises like D.C. allowing personal growth of up to 6 plants while C.P.S. can take one’s children away. We are only 1 year and 2 months away from the inevitable bargaining position. We’ll be watching C-span just to watch them squirm!
    I suppose the question in my mind is not so much which hypocrisy to focus on in prohibition (cancer research, child welfare..) theres just so many that the general short attention span of the information aged public gets desensitized and confused… Its a tough pill to swallow to admit to one’self, God and everybody that our government has been systematically responsible for mass murder.
    My gut feeling is this palpable guilt for 45 years of Drug war crimes of all kinds leaves Congress and the President’s entire administration with their hands in the “masa,” and so descheduling becomes a tricky game of “Whose fault is it anyway?” (Hint: where is the money?)
    As a result, we have to wait 2 more years for California to take us over the %50 mark of the U.S. Population with pro medicinal marijuana laws for the Supreme Court to be able to hear a Federal case.
    My greatest hope is that by then, 2016, the pending case of the U.S. Government v. Pickard et al will have appealed its way to the Supreme Court. Then it will be up to 9 justices to decide who goes to jail and who doesn’t. That leaves less than two years for Obama and a Republican Congress to figure out how to get their stories together before the $#!+ hits the fan and the U.N. has to decide how to excuse themselves of a tyrannical policy of murderous prohibition.
    Vaporize and stay healthy Oracle; things are fixin to get real good…

  27. We tortured some folks – President Obama

    Today I am ashamed of my Country.

    Who is complicit in these crimes against humanity?

    I hope we are all not forced by the rest of the World to march through our Secret Torture Camps…like the silent /complicit German Citizens who were marched through the Nazi Torture/Death Camps by horrified Americans!

    I would ask, Who was “we”?

    ” We are all guilty of the good we did not do” – too sick to my stomach to find the proper credit…God (if you are there) help us…

  28. “However, I do not want to minimize the Holocaust by making comparisons on that scale, although dispossessing people with asset forfeiture and then shipping them off to confinement is a similarity it is not the same as taking away their citizenship by declaring humans to be non-human and thus try to justify genocide.”

    It just isn’t politically viable now, that is all. It was perfectly viable Nasizism when we were stealing Native American land, as were the massacres.

    But don’t forget these Prohibs also steal your children, which is as de-humanizing as our government is allowed to get. Do you think they would limit themselves if not for the law? Here is an “officer” lying on tape while trying to excuse murder:

  29. When water control/possession is total, the Oligarchy will be complete.

    From Detroit to Dublin!

    Climate change, food wars, water wars, Human cannibalism…and finally the eating of dirt…brought to us by greed based, short sighted, Non-Human Corporation$…Get the good dirt now?…?

  30. Dave Evans says:
    December 10, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Is this mass murder enough for you?

    Cannabis cures cancer. Cancer kills 586,000 Americans every year. Every Prohibitionist is complicit in mass murder.

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