This is a true story.
It’s summer, 2015, and I’m writing this from my new love.
First of all, for those who don’t know me, I’m Dutch, not American. In fact, even though I’m Dutch bred, I’ve fooled many Dutch cannabis activists whom I can now consider friends.
Having said that, I’ll give a little background story about how this piece has come to be.
Before I turned to local cannabis activism, I wasn’t a big fan of coffeeshops to begin with. Mostly due to the lack of (good) experiences. And so when I did turn to VOC Nederland to figure out if I could play a role in cannabis activism in the Netherlands (which yes, is still required), I have since been facilitating and helping out where I can.
[quote_right]Before I turned to local cannabis activism, I wasn’t a big fan of coffeeshops to begin with[/quote_right]
Together with my colleague and now considered one of my best friends, spokesperson and secretary (but really much more) Derrick Bergman of VOC Nederland, we traveled through the whole country including even a couple of trips to Belgium, Germany and Spain. All in the name of cannabis. Were it not for our travels and obviously multiple stops at various coffeeshops throughout the country, I could’ve already left the country to join in the Green Rush in the United States without ever really exploring the coffeeshop phenomenon.
And so thanks to my involvement in helping to organise Cannabis Liberation Day, I instantly got to know many locals of my own city (which is not Amsterdam), who either work at or regularly visit the same coffeeshop in the city center.
Ever since, I’ve been a regular visitor and I can often be found there working on a piece like this one, but mostly you will find me in a conversation with one of it’s fascinating visitors.
What makes this coffeeshop/pub construction unique in its kind, is the reality that it’s the only place in the world where you can have this combination of things. I’m talking of course about Coffeeshop de Apotheker / Cafe de Bakkerij in the booming city of Eindhoven. Now again hopefully, the first stop for many tourists who fly to Eindhoven airport as a cheap destination to visit the Netherlands. (Recently, the city finally started to allow coffeeshops to serve tourists again.)
This coffeeshop is unique, thanks to its construction which came to be thanks to Dutch bureaucracy and crackdown on cannabis culture.
Previously, it had always been a place where you can buy your weed or hash, order a beer and sit outside on the terrace enjoying your freedom in public. Now, the pub and the coffeeshops are seperate, but located next to each other. You can buy your stuff and smoke it next door with a beer or a different beverage at the terrace. There are coffeeshops (Like Cremers in The Hague) with a similar construction, but they don’t have a terrace.
[quote_right]You can buy your stuff and smoke it next door with a beer or a different beverage at the terrace[/quote_right]
This is how I became a regular, got to know or at least speak, a truly unique range of people, who prove once again the multi-culture society the Dutch want to be, really only came to perfection in the coffeeshop.
For a good conversation, when I’m down myself for example (which face it, happens in a person’s life), I head to the coffeeshop and wind up in a conversation during which I mostly do the listening. It livens me up and in turn, the coffeeshop has become a form of social safety net, which a person needs every once in a while. And it’s extraordinary this group of people is always there for you. Perhaps there isn’t someone you previously talked to, but the right perfect stranger can mean the world to someone who’s just looking for someone to talk to.
I’ve joked about moving to Spain for a while to work at a Cannabis Social Club and learn Spanish, but I can just as well spend my summer at De Bakkerij (in English, The Bakery) and learn Portuguese by talking with the Portuguese crowd there.
[quote_right]Cannabis culture will find a way to survive.[/quote_right]
Something to realize, is with every pen or keystroke I, as much as everyone else involved with cannabis culture, are literally writing history.
Cannabis legalization is inevitable. Until then, cannabis culture will find a way to survive.
And that’s why, for all the reasons above, I fell in love with a coffeeshop.
PS: I was asked to blur people’s faces, which I did out of respect for their identity. Sadly enough, the result of the ongoing draconian War on Drugs.