When in Amsterdam....you can access and use small amounts of soft drugs, cannabis and hashish in licensed businesses. Once a year the industry holds a week long event to share ideas and network. People from all over the world travel to Amsterdam for the event, which culminates in the Cannabis Cup awards on Thanksgiving Day. This year the event was held surprisingly close to Amsterdam's centre at Roest.
Participants of the Amsterdam Cannabis Cup vote on categories such as best seeds, hash, and cannabis products. This year the main Coffeeshop prizes were all taken by the GreenHouse, with GreenPlace and Grey Area filling the minor rankings.
Many coffeeshops were absent from the event this year. (Note: Coffeeshop is a term in Amsterdam for a licensed business where you can buy small amounts of soft drugs). At the exhibition hall no Coffeeshops had stalls. This was a major departure from previous years.
In 2011, police raided the event that was held just outside Amsterdam to check stall holders and participants were adhering to strict amounts allowed to be carried; 5 grams per person and 500 grams per stall. This was the first time in 25 years the event had been raided by the police.
No major incidents were reported this year and the event ran smoothly. The biggest problem When in Amsterdam saw was security having to remind event participants that they could not smoke in the wonderfully industrial Roest bar and restaurant.
Many are critical of the The Cannabis Cup which is now in its 25th year. From an industry perspective some believe the judging model is influenced by the large Coffeeshops who invest in the event. All participants are judges and determining which is the best product can be hard due to the influence these soft drugs have on your body and mind.
People not involved in the Cannabis Cup believe it is just a marketing exercise by the small number of financially interested parties involved. This argument surrounds all award competitions even the Oscars.
When in Amsterdam's favorite booth was the hemp clothing. A plant the world has not used widely since the creation of synthetic fibers in the early 20th century. On a cold Fall Amsterdam day they were a well made natural product.
Despite the criticisms Amsterdam is the real star of the event. Amsterdam, its people and authorities, have allowed a space that is safe and free for industry people of soft drugs to discuss their passion and business in the open. Few other cities in the world demonstrate such maturity and tolerance as Amsterdam.
When in Amsterdam....enjoy!