Although our cannabis laws are fairly lax in Canada, we have yet to implement any reform policies, and thus cannabis continues to remain an illegal substance. However, this summer I was fortunate enough to be able to embark on a month long Europe trip with some friends (as I mentioned in an earlier post), and during my time there I was able to see how two different countries are implementing their own forms of cannabis cafes and dispensaries. Furthermore, as someone who has always promoted the concept of vapor lounges, I was intrigued to be able to visit places in which I could safely consume cannabis along with other adults. After spending time in a number of different lounges, I decided to write a little article detailing my experiences with them. I’ve also written up a section about the upcoming Canadian Election (October 19th) as two of our three mainstream parties promoting both decriminalization and legalization of cannabis!
The start of my travels brought me across the a large swath of the Netherlands (Rotterdam, the Hague, Leiden, Haarlem, and Amsterdam), where I soon learned that cannabis shops and cafes operate throughout the country (in my experience, prices tend to be lower in smaller cities!) under a legal gray area which allows them to sell cannabis to both residents and tourists. Because the shops cannot produce their own stock, cannabis strength and quality tended to vary greatly depending on the store and strain. Hash on the other hand was generally really awesome with plenty of options available. Some stores had vaporizers for sale, and vaporization is definitely quite widespread in larger cities. I was contacted by a VaporBlog reader after writing my first article on my travels, and he informed me that there’s also the Green House Kitchen in Amsterdam which offers a culinary experience accompanied by vaporizers. Although I had already left Amsterdam by the time I received this e-mail, I think the idea of combining a restaurant with vaporizers (as opposed to wine) could be an awesome concept (I find cannabis smoking before eating tends to blunt (hehe) my taste buds whereas vaping doesn’t.
Although cannabis is technically illegal in Spain, there exists a constitutional loophole in which people are able to purchase (and/or consume) cannabis within a private club. In order to become a member, you need an existing club member to refer you as well as pay a $50 euro membership fee (valid for one year). One thing that I found interesting was the fact that you must ask the budtender to ‘acquire’ or ‘obtain’ some cannabis as opposed to using words like ‘buy’ or ‘purchase’ (apparently this is because selling cannabis is illegal, but transferring cannabis from the club to a member isn’t!). Last summer, some of these clubs were shut down, but from what I understand they were closed due to issues such as improper ventilation rather than because authorities are trying to shut them all down.
Due to the membership fees, I decided to only visit one club, and found the Dragon Cannabis Club (DCC) after doing some research and hearing good things about the club. Located on Las Ramblas close to the Catalunya metro station, the entrance to DCC is a nondescript door which has a buzzer to let you in. After getting my membership setup (a process which took about fifteen minutes, save your membership card since you’ll need it for subsequent entrances!), I was soon able to choose between a selection of sativas, indicas, hashes, and dabs (I especially liked the charas hash!), all of which were surprisingly potent. The cafe itself is dimly lit, the budtenders are knowledgeable and friendly, and there’s definitely a very relaxed atmosphere inside the place. I also spotted a powerful ceiling ventilation system (along with strategically placed fans) which quickly whisked away any smoke produced by patrons which made the air feel refreshing rather than hazy. I was able to visit on five separate days, and every time I went I had no trouble meeting plenty of interesting people, and all of us agreed that it was a great experience being able to enjoy cannabis among other adults in a relaxed and tolerant social setting. Although there’s bongs, papers, and lighters available for all members (just ask the budtender!), there’s no vaporizers available. After speaking with different people from the club, I learned that vaporization is still fairly new to Spain, and general knowledge of vaporizers is at the level Canada was in 2009 when I first started vaping. However, if Spain continues to move towards more relaxed cannabis policies, I can definitely see vaporizers exploding in popularity there!
October 19th (Canadian Elecetion Day) is shaping up to be a very interesting time for Canadians, especially considering that two of our three major political parties (the Liberals and the New Democratic Party) are in favor of legalization and decriminalization respectively. The most recent polls are showing a very tight race between the Liberals, NDP, and Conservatives, and complicating things even more is the question of whether or not a cannabis favorable party can win a majority government as per our electoral system with such a close race. However, election polls can vary with a pretty large margin of error so anything can happen (plus we’re still a little ways from the election!). I know that I plan to do my part by getting out and voting, and if you live in Canada I hope you do the same!
Aside from seeing how some countries have started to move towards more progressive cannabis policies, I’m also excited to see that vaporizers have started to establish a presence among the mainstream cannabis community in different places around the world. Not only are vaporizers healthier, they’re also much more efficient and cleaner (vaporizers don’t produce smoke or ash)! I’m also hoping that I’m able to visit either Colorado or Washington in the near future in order to see how they’ve gone about implementing full on legalization!