By John Knetemann
I have coffeeshop fever. I have spent the past week in Amsterdam with 3 days left to go, and I have absolutely fallen in love with every coffeeshop I have stepped into. In case you didn't know, a coffeeshop is a location in the Netherlands where you can purchase, consume, and enjoy cannabis. Basically, it is like a bar for bud, and just like bars, all coffeeshops have their own distinct atmosphere and attitude.
Right now I am sitting in a coffeeshop called "Easy Times" that has a sleek, modern look. Like many coffeeshops, it has a large sitting area full of couches, chairs, beanie bags, and anything you can put your ass into. At the front is a bar area that sells different strands of bud, along with a wide array of snacks and sodas for when the munchies kick in. In the sitting area, there is normally television, music, bands, or some kind of entertainment going on, which generally attracts the attention of the entire stoned audience.
At pretty much every coffeeshop you will get about 7-10 strands to choose from. You can then choose if you want pre-rolled joints or just a baggie, which pre-rolled is really expensive and not worth it. Once you order your weed, you will generally also get a soda or a coffee, and then enjoy yourself with your friends and family. Pretty simple and stoned fun.All coffeeshops are very different, though. Some are more techno leaning (like most things in Amsterdam), some are more rock, and others are more reggae. There are calm vibes with soft cushy couches, and there are club vibes with loud music and dancing. There is a coffeeshop for just about anyone, and luckily there is a coffeeshop at about every street corner.
However, there is something odd about coffeeshops, and odd about all of Amsterdam. As I glance around the room, and the entire city, I see everyone rolling spliffs. At my table someone is mixing bud and tobacco. The same goes for the table next to mine, and the same goes for the table next to theirs. As I walked the streets, there were spliffs as far as the eye could see. Yet there were no bongs, bubblers, vape pens, or pieces to be smoked anywhere. Not to mention, it is very rare for people here to roll a straight joint. Everyone seems to love rolling spliffs, exclusively, but there are still options for people that are 100% anti-tobacco.
I must tell you that I am absolutely mystified by this experience. I take a keen interest in markets and exchange, and this is one of the most amazing markets I have ever seen. The amount of people that come in and out of different coffeeshops and converse and exchange with others is fascinating. Money is passed along quickly, and pot is passed along quicker. It is a system we should strive for across the globe. Just like bars and alcohol, there should be marijuana alternatives for anyone, anywhere that prefers to partake in pot. The moment a coffeeshop or anything like it is opened up in the United States, I will be there.