Amsterdam is a lovely, old-world European city without, it would seem, any buildings taller than about 5 stories (or no higher than the Rijks Museum). Amsterdam’s heart is ringed with canals.
My room was on Keizersgracht, overlooking a canal, and was operated by the Lucky Mothers Coffeeshop from a few doors down the Keizersgracht. It has large windows and overlooks the tram stop, the canal, and old world splendor that you just don’t find in North America.
Amsterdam is fiercely expensive. A pear from the fruit stand next door cost $2.25 U.S., apples were $1.00 U.S. each, a cab ride for 2 miles costs $10.00 U.S., my room, pleasant, shared bathroom, shared shower (this is interesting! love those European customs! I had all female room-neighbours), costs $65 U.S., (lovely view though).
Marijuana is the same price in Amsterdam as in British Columbia, about $8 U.S. a gram, which, when it is legal in Amsterdam (de facto, I saw no interference in the sale & distribution of large (kilos of the stuff!) quantities of marijuana & hashish), is surprisingly high priced, but demand is great. I think the price is controlled by an agreement amongst the sellers and growers, because the price was uniform everywhere.
The Cannabis Cup itself was ineptly run -but everyone had fun nonetheless. However, the actual organizing was rife with poor thought.
My criticisms are offered here in the hopes that next year, when this thing gets really big, a total disaster can be avoided:
Registration: People lined up at 10 in the morning and had to wait for one hour or longer to just sign in. I rolled 15 joints and gave `em out along the line-up as I entertained people and introduced myself (my card… my card…my card…) as there was two hours before the hemp expo opened. This hour plus wait was in addition to waiting outside from 9.00 to 10.00 a.m. while the High Times volunteers (or whatever) got it together.
The Hemp Expo was great, and it should be expanded massively for next year. BUT… there was no photocopier on the premises. All these business people networking and yet not a fax machine, photocopier or fax-phone anywhere in the PAX PARTY HOUSE where the event was held. Very frustrating for some of the participants.
No First Aid Unit on the premises! Here you have hundreds (like 600+ Americans ) who have possibly limited experience with potent hash & marijuana (also you can buy all magic mushrooms, MDMA and lots of other things) and yet there was no first aid crew in PAX PARTY HOUSE. Since High Times basically invited these people and took their money, they have an obligation to be proper tour operators and organizers and that means having a first aid crew around to handle possible health emergencies.
Well, Larry Duprey, a great guy from Montreal who runs the hemp clothes company AUBOUT, had on Saturday night what appeared to be a stroke. Half his body went paralyzed, he was having tight pains in chest, shaking, etc., and went to hospital… but in fact he is diabetic, 50 years old, had been going to bed at 3 in the morning, and like most people there, had been eating poorly. Now I agree its each individual’s responsibility to monitor their own behaviour, but Larry seriously overtoked and had a reaction from the heavy pot, poor sleep, diet, diabetic complications, and he’s 50, so a crew should be on hand at the main venue to deal with this and other potential problems.
There were a fair number of attendees between 40 and 55 years of age, and next year there will be many more.
The V.I.P. dinner was the largest fiasco. High Times charged ordinary mortals $100 U.S. (since I was a speaker representing Canada, mine was a freebie). Food was ordinary and a shocking disappointment, worth NO MORE than $20 U.S. (tops!), and there was absolutely NO PROGRAM! Nothing was planned or prepared! And (this really infuriated everyone) no pot smoking was permitted! A V.I.P. dinner for a cannabis convention with no pot smoking allowed. Wow, someone at High Times was asleep when they booked this hotel (Akura Hotel) Other events were held at PAX PARTY HOUSE.
The method of judging the Cannabis Cup Awards also annoyed some of the Dutch folks I know. For myself, I am not qualified to be a “judge”. To me, pot or hash just gets you high. I smoke it until I get high and I usually can’t tell the difference between strains. I get dozens of free samples of killer bud every month from a grateful B.C. Green Growers Society, and I can’t distinguish things like “taste” (all tastes the same to me), or “characteristics” (like, you’re stoned, how can you believe the perception of “quality” when you’re trying to distort time, space, sensation?).
So for me, its all a popularity contest, which Steve Hager at High Times readily admitted to, but all this means is that a few select coffeeshops get a High Times sponsored PR boost. Whether a Cannabis Cup really measures quality of pot or whatever, well, the jury is out on that one. However, Jack Herer’s strain was judged the winner.
Activist workshops were in short supply In fact, really, there weren’t any at all, except for some seminars where guest speakers like me gave very brief synopses of situations in various nations. Actual workshops and structured stuff to do was in short supply.
There is no shortage of great things to do in Amsterdam, but while you’ve got growers, activists, writers , etc. from all over the world, have some programs! Also a movie room running pot movies, documentaries, etc. 24 hours a day would be great and easy to arrange. An on-line computer would have been a good idea to access the internet and show all those assembled how they can get zillions of items of information of the net. 99% of the people there had no idea of the resources available on the net.
- There is now a seed seller who will mail seeds to Canada and the USA, and he doesn’t care about the DEA, he just wants your money and he’ll worry about the DEA in his own sweet time. Contact: Paradise Seeds, P.O. Box 377, 1000 AJ Amsterdam, Holland. His introductory special price is 12 Skunk #1 seeds for $30 U.S. He’ll send a seed variety catalog if you send a couple of bucks, or write to him with your interests.
- There are over 60 different seed varieties available from
Sensi Seed, POSITRONICS, Paradise, and various other grower coffeeshops-seed stores.
- Positronics is this fabulous huge salon of grow equipment, smoking room (free pot!), seed bank, hydroponic labs, and much more. You must go here if you are in Amsterdam. Peculiarly, their catalogue neglects to include their address, but here it is from the Cannabis Cup program: POSITRONICS, Cornelius Troostraat 33, 1072 JB Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Nice folks were at CANNABIS IN AMSTERDAM (CIA!), who do not ship seeds but also have a great shop. Their email address: dmarkgra@inter.NL.net.
- My favorite coffeeshop (where marijuana & hash is sold) was LUCKY MOTHERS, at 665 Keizersgracht, a small, intimate place run by an intense and busy Alan (the proprietor), with Sabina & Sheila (two sexy women). Sabina is from Quebec, and Sheila is this lovely black woman with that posh English accent that makes you want to cream every time she speaks.
- My verdict on the best pot? I had it when I returned to British Columbia Monday night. No it wasn’t from Amsterdam, it was grown and cured right here in B.C., it was close to hallucinogenic, and more transplendent than any pot I had there (although the pot is uniformly good in Amsterdam, the range of “good” is limited). What impressed me most in Amsterdam was the hashish, which is very scarce in British Columbia. I met someone who wanted to know if British Columbians would be interested in receiving 2,000 pounds of hashish, and I said, “uh, yes, I’m sure they would, but personally, I don’t know how you’d do that…” and I was offered the job of brokering that amount “uh, I’ll just go over here now, and really, I can’t help out…”
- Robert Connell Clarke (author of Marijuana Botany) jumped when I told him that 3 of the 6 days I spent in Amsterdam were spent buying marijuana seeds and sending them to people all over Canada, and said, “I’m as cool as you can get, so you’re safe telling me, but I wouldn’t tell anyone else”, and I told him I had already told this to everybody and he added, “oh you’re already done for” and then I told him I didn’t even screen the requests so for all I know a cop had already ordered some seeds from me and Robert just looked at me and sighed.
- I’ll let you know if people get the seeds OK. After all this, I was sure I would get inspected thoroughly at customs, although this never happens, but when you’ve visited Amsterdam for a marijuana convention, and when your business card says “The Marijuana & Hemp Centre for Greater Vancouver”, ya’ gotta figure that its reasonable you’re going to get inspected. So I had nothing, as usual, and… No inspection! -Sigh- Although I know that if I ever did bring anything back, that’d be the time they do the anal search.
- Jack Herer was at the Cannabis Cup and I spoke with him at some length about his new edition of The Emperor Wears No Clothes (still not out yet), and about his dislike of Ed Rosenthal’s book Hemp Today (I still like the book, but Jack feels hurt by the book’s veiled attempt to possibly discredit his work).
- Tommy Chong was the famous guest who didn’t show, following upon the heels of Hunter S. Thompson, who failed to show up last year. Meanwhile, both Mel Frank & Ed Rosenthal were somewhat insulted that High Times asked them to come to the Cannabis Cup but were unwilling to pay the flight over there, so neither went. Ed Rosenthal instead went to the Dutch Growers Cannabis Cup, held a couple of weeks after the High Times one, sponsored by the very sophisticated Dutch magazine HIGHLIFE, a magazine for marijuana growers and consumers.
- HEMP BC left the 1994 Cannabis Cup vaporizer at the LUCKY MOTHERS COFFEESHOP so when you’re there check it out.
- A German psychiatrist, Green Party parliamentarian, author and otherwise neato guy Hans-Jorg Behr brought a beautiful collection of antique cannabis smoking pipes to show that pot was smoked in the 18th & 19th century. He, I, Mari Kane, Ben Dronkers (Sensi Seed), and all the other international speakers posed for official High Times photographs, and during this, Hans broke out singing “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” in this hilarious German accented rendition. Funny, incredibly well informed fellow.
- Michka from France is a very sexy woman, with that worldly and elegant French presence that I found bewitching. She is author of Le Cannabis Est-il Une Drogue?, Petite histoire du Chanvre, and was in High Times’ June issue. Oddly enough, she’s a dual Canadian and French citizen, and she actually lived here in British Columbia here until some years ago.
- The HEMP FASHION SHOW was possibly the most illuminating event outside of the HEMP EXPO itself which was really a good thing. The new hemp fashion out there, especially the lingerie by Josephine,
is really fantastic stuff. The hemp industry is definitely exploding.
- Very expensive and sophisticated hemp clothing is coming out of a company with a gorgeous brochure, called HEMP TRIBE, from Rotterdam. I’ve misplaced their catalogue, but I’ll get it and include it next post.
- Hanf House, Waldem-arstraat 33, 10999 Berlin, Germany, has hemp rolling papers at very reasonable prices. Ask for their price on a carton of Canuma Hanfblattchen, and they also have a great poster about cannabis, printed on cannabis. They are selling fabulous hemp paper and hemp card stock. Their phone number is 30-614-9884.
Concluding Rant About High Times
One thing that is a High Times peculiarity is this kind of new agey, spiritual(ly bogus?), rainbow-gathering atmosphere that High Times tries to conjure up at this event, with the “Council” stuff, and this retro-60’s approach that you don’t have to be organized or disciplined as long as the vibes are right.
I disagree. I’d feel better at a completely slick 90’s high tech,
capitalist, libertarian, convention of the 21st century, where we have lots of seminars, video (all the video on legalization, Cheech & Chong classics, cool interviews with Herer, Rosenthal, and even really appalling pseudo-toker films like (ugh!) Dazed & Confused) rooms, cyber-toking (the net, obviously), smuggling techniques & seed delivery, cloning technique seminars, etc.
Actually, this 7 days of non-stop toking at coffeeshops is pretty lame by comparison to what a good world-wide convention in a jurisdiction that allows cultivation, could be.
Unfortunately, I feel High Times Magazine is torn by trying to cover all these areas of its “mandate”. The magazine on one hand features an “indigenous tribe under the gun” each issue, sometimes spilling on to the cover (August `94, Mexican Zapatista guy, the worst selling cover of the year), then cybertech (October) then every second cover has some High Times rock pal on the front cover (Fishbone (July), Some rockers I forget (October), Mila Janovich (Nov.), Some rapper babes on February & March, I mean that’s 5 covers in 1994 that feature vaguely associated rockers with pot. Meanwhile, buds or tokers, which sell the magazine in much greater quantities (I mean, let’s face it there’s 500 music magazines out there and one cannabis magazine, so what should you put on the cover, I ask?) were on May (leaf), June (beautiful bud), Sept (rasta toker), December & January (though lame colour for January cover), and a leaf is coming on February cover (originally used in Marijuana & Hemp Newsletter #4).
How about some famous advocates (like Herer, Rosenthal, etc.) pulling
on a hookah in front of a cool coffeeshop in Amsterdam, or at some big ganja farm? This putting usually brainless rock sluts on the front of the cover (and spending so much ink on their rather redundant pro-pot blather)is pandering to a culture that is, in my opinion, not truly related to cannabis. The problem is that these rock & rap record companies are buying ads in the magazine, and this is influencing the editorial direction.
Let’s take a look at the February 1995 issue and see what’s up with High Times:
100 pages including cover, made up of 65 pages of material and 35 pages of ads. Of the 65 pages of articles only 30 actually deal with cannabis in any way. I see a counter-culture magazine with a large minority of cannabis articles.
High Times is centered on the east coast, in Manhattan, and this shows up in their magazine. I believe they would do better if headquartered in Oregon, Washington, or even British Columbia, where 90% of the cannabis-hemp legalization activism is happening anyway. California is just too strange these days.
Steve Hager, editor at High Times, was completely disgusted with an
earlier version of this review that was posted on the internet
newsgroup alt.drugs. His response was personally addressed, so it isn’t reprinted here.
Peter Gorman, Executive Editor at High Times, wrote as follows:
Read with some dismay and a little interest too your diatribe on the Cup. Your perogative. But really, a little editing might have been in order. You make some good but minor points, re: planning, nearly all of which had already been dealt with before we even left Amsterdam. But I think it’s important to remember that for their 25 bucks people got all the free weed they could handle (generosity of the coffeehouses – nice treat!), a place to party, buses at the airport, buses around town one day, seminars (at which the longest speaker, the last in the last seminar, took 13 minutes, so we didn’t end up needing the hook), a hydro-vs-bio debate, the terrific party at the Milkweg which included the best hemp fashion show yet mounted, the Hemp Expo, the chance to meet Jack Herer, R.C. Clarke, Hans Georg-Behr, Hager, Emery, Conrad, Gorman, a host of other people in the movement, and a chance to be a judge at the Cannabis Cup!
Yo! for the price of 2 movie tickets and a popcorn?? Not bad.
Minor problems? Sure. Perfect? No. But you were raving positively at the time. As were almost all of the others.
Could it have been done better? Sure. Was it fantastic? Absolutely.
So show some grace, High Times threw one hell of a party and info-confab.
Peace, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year,
Upon Arrival of the Seeds
About a quarter of the seeds arrived crushed, and the rest survived. Since we weren’t making money off these mailings, we don’t cover crushed seeds, although being in retail, we’ve replaced any crushed seeds with some nice BC seeds, simply cuz we hate disappointing folks.
However, the seeds were wrapped tightly in paper (to deter rattling sounds) then wrapped in tissue paper till padded, then two postcards placed around it, and still some Canadian postal machines managed to smush some. One American sent me money to buy seeds, but I did not do so, as I’m admittedly, nervous about sending seeds to the U.S., (hell, they went to Australia to get Neville for sending seeds to New Orleans) but I guess I wussed out…
For Canadians, our store HEMP BC – THE Marijuana & Hemp Centre for Greater Vancouver – sells a small selection of 10 seeds to a pack, for $15 to $25. Varieties this week included, one indoor sativa (Kelowna), a Hawaiian indica , a Pine indica (phototron bred), two other indica-sativa crosses.
We do not mail seeds. It is illegal to sell seeds in Canada, of course, but we are employing what we here in Canada call the Jacques Parizeau method: Try it and see if anyone stops us. Surprisingly, our little display of seeds up by the front counter where anyone can see them has aroused no real comments and we don’t sell live marijuana seeds in any greater volume than we sell hemp soaps and hemp care products. (most folks out here are clone artists).