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High maintenance

Gut reaction: Michael Akanjee, weed model, lent his body to our research

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Needing a breath of fresher air, Marie-Charlotte Pezé goes in search of a   healthier high If giving up smoking isn’t a New Year’s resolution you plan to make, at least there are some options for what we might call a ‘cleaner’ high. Following the well-trodden path of organic foods, bio weed is finding its footing in coffeeshops around town. ‘Much like organic foodstuffs, organic weed is grown in real soil without pesticides or additives,’ says David Duclos, director at Cannabis College, explaining that it’s more fragrant than regular weed and definitely tastes better: ‘Think organic tomatoes compared to hydroponic, off-season tomatoes.’ In the past couple of years, coffee-

shops in Amsterdam have jumped on the organic bandwagon, with a majority carrying at least one bio strain. ‘An organic high is lighter and clearer and won’t give the smoker a headache,’ says Sera Hunt, manager at coffeeshop Homegrown Fantasy. ‘You won’t get that sensation you’ve got a metal bar going through your forehead.’ Organic weed is often thought to be more expensive and less potent, but Jason Den Enting, manager at Dampkring is positive his prices aren’t higher than in regular coffeeshops – they just lower their margins to absorb the slightly higher buy-in price. In the end, most bio strains are, according to Duclos, in the regular €7-€13 per gram range. The caveat? Because cultivating cannabis for commercial purposes is illegal in the Netherlands, there are no regulations and no supervision.

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Without an official organic label to protect the customer, it’s more a matter of trust. Toshi Politon, dealer at coffeeshop Anyday, says his shop

Organic weed has a much stronger scent and the heads are not as compact checks up on the growers, while Den Enting is a little more vague and says Dampkring ‘has been using the same suppliers for years’. Jon Foster, co-owner at Grey Area, talks about the methods his growers use to replace pesticides – ‘Ladybugs

can be used to kill other insects harmful to the cultures’ – while Yoyo in De Pijp actually grows its own weed. So, how to know if its truly organic? Hunt is proud of Homegrown Fantasy’s leafy, full-bodied heads; Jon Eijgermans from Katsu explains that buds with pesticides are rougher and have striation when observed under the microscope. ‘Organic weed is softer and friendlier’, he says. Duclos advises that not only will organic weed have a much stronger scent, the buds won’t be as compact. One thing they all agree on? The taste is incomparable.

Dampkring The spicy Amnesia Haze was dense and solid, and less leafy than expected, but it had a distinctive fresh smell and a funny peppery taste. Its


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super-strong sativa effect wasn’t my thing – I thought organic was supposed to mean ‘less potent’. €13/gram

A healthy-looking green bud with orange hairs and wide leaves, it’s got the look and smell of true bio. €9/gram

Homegrown Fantasy

Anyday

Its White Widow was fat and luscious, much leafier than the compact-looking hydro White Widow from the Rokerij. With a strong and pleasant tangy smell, it gave a clear, relaxing high. €9/gram

Critical 47 lived up to its intriguing name and reputation: dense, compact and dry, with a strong earthy taste, almost like a delicate mushroom. It was powerful enough to bring doubts on its organic authenticity. But this four-time Cannabis Cup winner is actually grown outdoors in Spain, which proves bio certainly doesn’t mean meek. €13/gram See listings for more coffeeshop details

Club Media With a sweet and fruity taste, the rich, full head of Hindu Kush gave a strong, bright high that gently mellowed out.

No smoke, no fire Want to give your lungs a break? With no tobacco, no smoke or combustion, many smokers and coffeeshop owners believe vaporizers are the healthier way to inhale. Storz & Bickel, the manufacturers of the famous Volcano, claim that lungs stay clear of tar, nicotine and carbonised toxins. Evert Scholten, the maker of the Verdamper, talks about the ‘pure taste of weed, which is much cleaner than in a joint or pipe’ and the fact that without combustion, ‘you use about 40 per cent less marijuana than in a joint’. Scholten claims the high will also last twice as long because there’s no nicotine to counteract the effects of the weed. Duclos from Cannabis College explains that heated at 180C, the extracted THC from a vaporizer (or ‘vape’ as they’re affectionately termed) gives a nice heady high, while between 200-220C, the cannabinoids are released for a more bodyengaging trip – it’s the temperature recommended for the use of medical marijuana, to relieve joint and muscle pains for example A lot of coffeeshops have vaporizers on hand or they can be purchased in most head shops around the city,

including the Cannabis College where prices tend to be lower (€485 for a Volcano digital, which can go up to €650). Here’s our pick of the best: Volcano The popular but pricey Volcano has precise temperature settings to help you achieve the desired effect, but you must be willing to walk around with a vapour-filled balloon the size of a prize-winning watermelon. storz-bickel.com. €398 Volcano classic; €498 Volcano digital iOlite For a more portable solution, the iOlite works with butane and fits in a pocket if you like to get discreetly stoned in front of the latest Disney movie. You have to suck harder than on a joint, but the taste of the weed is really pure and the nicotine-free high is much smoother. my-iolite.com. €150 De Verdamper Handmade by a passionate Dutchman, the Verdamper is a funny looking glass contraption that could be mistaken for a bong. It’s funny to see what happens to your weed through the glass and the high does last longer. ‘No vapours like Dutch vapours,’ says Evert. de-verdamper.nl. €299-€395, depending on model NO2 Vapir has a new portable model with a rechargeable battery and an easy-to-load, adjustable weed chamber. Easy to use and quick to heat, it’s endorsed by Willie Nelson – what more do you need? vapir.com. €139

Vice January 2011  www.timeoutamsterdam.nl 95


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