The Netherlands has been a small country that gets noticed much more than one should expect with just under 17 million people. From financing some of the early European colonialism adventures in the 17th century to a hub for many travellers heading to, leaving from or just passing through modern Europe. At the heart of the country is Amsterdam, a magnet drawing people from the around the world with a reputation for being nothing like where you are from, unless you happen to be from Amsterdam.
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Many cities built on water around the world like to refer to themselves as the Amsterdam of the North, South, East or West in planning and canals but none can come close when it comes to replicating the culture. For many people, there are museums of the Dutch masters, modern architecture, worldly food and a healthy knowledge of beer. A true treat while in Amsterdam is to sample Jenever. One will be told on a visit to a Jenever distillery or tasting room, such as Wynand Fockink, the Dutch invented this fine drink and the English then tried to replicate it. The English call it gin but failed miserably to bring the nuances of this fine beverage to life according to the Dutch.
Ask any backpacker about Amsterdam and suddenly they seem to glaze over with thoughts of cannabis cafes and half baked strolls through the red light district. As a regular stop on any tour through Europe, the backpacker trail is well worn in this part of the world both by feet and many tall tales. A few snaps of the fingers and they are likely to tell you stories of behaviour experienced or heard of fourth hand they would never dream about back home, unless home is Amsterdam.
Bad behaviour aside, there is growing interest in the uses and benefits of hemp and cannabis products. Better research and a slow opening of people’s minds to reconsider the over publicized stance that everything associated with cannabis is evil. The start of legalization in some jurisdictions of the United States, is reviving an interest in cultivation, processing and products that take advantage of these benefits. Whether you are looking to buy or learn about Dutch cannabis seeds or sample food and recipes that take advantage of the properties of cannabis, you can find helpful businesses and knowledgeable people in Amsterdam.
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With Amsterdam’s much longer history of acceptance for the use of cannabis, one can find resources and businesses that don’t feel like you are sneaking down a back alley in a sketchy part of town. Cafes, which serve cannabis products, are plentiful in the tourist areas. Don’t confuse these with coffee shops that serve coffee and not products for smoking or vaporizing. For many places in the world, these are interchangeable terms. In Amsterdam, they are very precise.
For travellers, it is important to understand the rules back home before getting too caught up in the fun. Acceptance of cannabis and even hemp does not cross all borders. If the thoughts of bringing seeds, products or even items that are classified as drug paraphernalia in some places, across borders are starting to form, check with someone that knows the rules back home and any stops along the way. A traveller may be subject to the local rules on a stopover to change flights and many countries have very strict sentencing requirements for anything associated with drug use or importation. Just passing through is not a legal defence.