I recently spent the last 50 days travelling Europe with my girlfriend seeing some amazing sites and experiencing the lifestyles of different places. One place that stands out is Amsterdam.
Amsterdam was a place that seemed to have a lot more stereotypes associated with it. Before arriving I heard dirty, drugs, sex, and thought does this make it a bad place? Either way I was intrigued and excited to see the city. We arrived in the evening and it was beautiful. The streets and canals were lit up magnificently, and the people were in high supply as every corner around the stations revealed groups of people and bicycles.
One thing that you cannot look past is the decriminalization of marijuana, which I was analyzing the whole time as we had just elected JT (Justin Trudeau) and him declaring he was going to legalize in Canada. As I sat in coffee shops all over town I began to realize why it works for them. It’s essentially a cafe with your standard selection of espresso, cappuccino, flat white etc. The only difference is there is another desk with a cannabis expert at your service. Another thing to note, alcohol was never served at any of the coffee shops. They don’t make it accessible to mix the two!
Another thing I started analyzing was the people that were coming and going from the shops. Just a few for example:
1) The local dutch resident who comes in alone, smokes a joint and chats up the barista while sipping his cappuccino and leaving before his seat hardly warms up.
2) The middle-aged crowd testing the waters and deciding to have a soda and maybe get high off the fumes. Right when leaving one male straggler swung back for I assume a “bathroom break” and got a quick brownie from the barista, which I assume he split with the other fellas back at the hotel.
3) The stragglers outside peeping in and deliberating whether or not to take the pot plunge. Some would stand outside for what seemed like forever. If tempted to come inside, most would almost always opt for the eatables and dash out so fast they couldn’t even collect their change.
4) The green expert who believes this is what heaven is actually like. It’s similar to the thought of a kid who walks into a Burger King and sees the ball pit.
5) Everyone else who is comfortable and curious all at the same time.
Whatever reason you are there, it’s undeniable that the cannabis culture is one of their main tourist attractions just like Iceland has waterfalls, Paris and the Eiffel Tower, Amsterdam has “Coffee Shops”. A local said it best during our very first cafe experience in the city. He looked around, looked at us, and commented on how happy we looked while repeatedly saying “This is Amsterdam!”.
Do I think Canada is ready for this type of atmosphere? Well, all I can say is it works for other places. I hope whoever is in charge of the adoption of Marijuana into our society is talking to the right people who made it the success it is in Amsterdam, and more recently states like Colorado and Washington. It’s not meant to be just a money grab. It could make or break how people see our country depending on how the legalization is carried out in Canada.