THE first of January this year was dubbed ‘Green Wednesday’, as Colorado became the world’s first ever place to see the licensed sale of cannabis for recreational use. Though Holland has been ‘tolerated’ those paying for a public puff since 1976, the country officially prohibits the sale and use of the drug. Though it is firmly categorized as a ‘soft’ drug, where exactly the Dutch coffee-houses stood in the eyes of the law was always shrouded in grey.
The fear of ‘drug tourism’ is often cited as a principle reason against the legalization of the cannabis. In Colorado, like in Amsterdam, there are attempts to keep this to a bare minimum. Whereas residents of Colorado can now buy up to 1oz (28g) of cannabis, foreigners and Americans from other states are only allowed to purchase a quarter of that. Taking it out of the state or attempting to mail it to oneself is also strictly prohibited. In addition, smokers are being asked not to light up ‘publicly or openly’, but preferably at home.
In Holland, the Dutch government have also tried to restrict ‘drug tourism’, having in the past introduced an obligatory ‘weed pass’, which only residents could apply for. This has since fizzled out, though outside Amsterdam it is still necessary to show proof of residency when purchasing cannabis.
Behind the haze
Some argue that without the coffee houses Amsterdam would fast slide down Europe’s ‘must see’ list. However a closer look at the city shows that this isn’t necessarily the case, as the city possesses much charm beyond ‘Smokeys’ and space cakes. Not titled the ‘Venice of the North’ for nothing, the city’s rows of beautiful canals offer a beautiful portraiture for families or couples taking a boat trip, or indeed even wandering about the side streets on foot or rolling over the quaint bridges upon rented bicycles. The sobering house of Anne Frank is rarely seen without a queue snaking out of its doorway, as it is with the Van Gogh museum, only two of the most impressive and popular sites that the city has to offer.
Colorado too, in a different way, has much worth travelling for beyond its liberal drug policy. Presenting itself as an ‘outdoors’ state, Colorado offers biking trips into the mountains, winter sports, and corporate team-bonding weekends on ranches. Denver is a hidden, cultural gem with a burgeoning arts and music scene. And while Amsterdam offers the Heineken factory, Denver is becoming the one of the biggest and most varied produced of craft beer in the country. Foodies and winos are satisfied too with the large amount of farmer’s markets and winemakers sprinkled across the state.
So if considering a trip to either Europe or the States, here’s hoping that a haze of smoke doesn’t prevent you seeing all that Amsterdam and Colorado has to offer. One thing that is certain, travelling to either country for any reason, it is important to know the rules, and any advice offered to visitors. Renowned for its fierce airport stuff, when travelling to the States it is important to note any relevant visa requirements. If planning a longer trip, this site here should be able to answer any immigration questions.