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Vancouver Tourism: Vansterdam

By Chuck Ansbacher

Friday February 29, 2008

When I first moved here a few years ago, all of my old high school pot-head friends who hadn’t smoked their way into a permanent state of paranoia, or been met with death, had a bit of a freak out. “Dude, pot is legal up there. It must be amazing! And you know what? You know what I hear they call it up there man? Vansterdam. And they’ve got, like, cafes, and you can smoke in them and shit. Dude, you’re moving to fucking Vansterdam!” And fortunately, that was the last time I ever heard anyone use that nickname again. Van-shitty? Lame-couver? Fuck Mountain? Great. But Vansterdam? Jesus.

Yet this is the nickname that Vancouver has earned amongst marijuana enthusiasts the world over. BC pot is globally renowned, and for good reason. It is potent as fuck, delivered straight to your door in velvet-lined briefcases, economically priced (it’s a buyer’s market), and best of all, you can pretty much smoke it everywhere. All of these factors settle comfortably under the “pro” column when evaluating the quality of life that Vancouver provides to it’s pot-smoking residences, but at the drop of a dime bag (zing!) all of these conveniences quickly turn into one big “con”. Why? Because as its global reputation as a weed mecca inevitably suggests, Vancouver attracts pot tourists.

Now we can all give a huge thanks to God that this city hasn’t tried in any sort of way to capitalise on it’s pot rep. The actual Amsterdam has done a great job of cornering that market, and there’s no need for another one. So what do tourists do when they show up in “Vansterdam” and discover that weed isn’t being sold by the pound at every Starbucks in town? Well one way or another, they all wind up at one place: the New Amsterdam Cafe.

With a clever name and important purpose, the New Amsterdam is the destination for those craving a Netherlandic experience with West Coast flourish. Finally, just a two hour drive from America, everybody has the ability to go into a store that sells neither booze nor pot, and get fuuugged up. Yeah man, forget about getting stoned in a stupid old park, or on top of the Court House or in a cozy place like your hotel room. You want to smoke the weed that looks nothing like the Bud of the Month you’ve had hanging in your locker at school for the past four years, that you had to buy off some weird dude on the corner, in a place that, essentially, serves mediocre coffee. And when red-eyed 18somethings — heads filled with hazy dreams of fluffy pot-pillows — find themselves in Vancouver at long last, this is the experience that the majority of them share. They may not have smoked the best pot, and they certainly didn’t smoke it with the best people, but fucking yes, they were able to legally smoke it indoors, and in a business. Aaaaah, the sweet taste of victory. This is what all that protesting has been for.


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