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Cannabis Cup Day 4: Some Things Non-Europeans Should Know About Amsterdam

I have never had much opportunity to travel, so my short time here in the Netherlands has been a great learning experience. There are certain moments in my life when I have become acutely aware of how limited my world view truly is, and this week has definitely been one for the books. In order to help other Amsterdam and Cannabis Cup newbies avoid some of the etiquette faux pas I have been making this whole week, I’ve compiled a little list of some of my discoveries:


The Fun is Not at the Expo Center

A row of booths.

The Amsterdam Cannabis Cup is one of the largest and most well-known cannabis events in the world. Yet, with all due respect, the actual expo center for the event is a little unimpressive. There are a surprisingly few number of booths, and the variety of products and businesses on display are a lot less than expected. While more people head over to the venue in the evening, during the day the giant warehouse seems pretty empty.

The atmosphere is quite the opposite when you walk into a competing coffee shop, where the true excitement of the event can be felt. At times, there are so many people it can be difficult to find a place to sit down to sample the products. Many coffee shops become so packed that they are only open to judges during the Cup.


Have a Drink

Coffee, tea, a smoothie, anything really. Though coffee shops tend to be packed during the Cup, they are ultimately a place to sit back, relax, and soak in your surroundings. It is considered rude to go into a coffeeshop and only sample the bud. Why not take the time to chat up your neighbors?

Due to the plant’s illegality, people in the U.S. and Canada have understandably developed a type of reserve when it comes to cannabis. This reserve should be left at the door when you walk into a shop. Rather than something that you do discretely, cannabis is very much a social thing here in Amsterdam. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I was invited to share someone’s table after walking into a random coffee shop I found while just wandering around the city.


Slow It Down

Take a minute to appreciate your surroundings, such as this nice display put out by Cloud Vapes.

This is especially important for people from the United States, who are used to getting things instantaneously. I have been on a pretty tight schedule so far on my trip. Between meetings and running to meet a train or bus, everything I’ve done has been quite time sensitive.

Because of this fact, it was quite shocking when I walked into a shop and ordered a sandwich on my first day in the city, only to have it delivered to me 40 minutes later. My teammate and I were the only people in the place. At first I thought that this was just a poor restaurant choice, but I soon realized that no one in the city seems to be in a hurry (except cyclists, drivers, and public transportation).

There is nothing you can really do to make things happen faster, so it’s best to just (again) sit back, relax, and enjoy the time you have in this northern fantasyland.