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uilding Rocksterdam Bringing Amsterdam to Colorado and Washington part one of two

By Diana Campos

This year’s 4-20 holiday has marked little more than a mere season since Colorado became the first American state to legalize the sale of Cannabis for recreational purposes. This is obviously a major milestone for Cannabis aficionados across the nation, the majority of whom only months before were looking at unreasonable fines and even jail time for an “offense” as minor as a joint, and many for whom that danger still exists. What this means for America is a clear ending to decades of prohibition and the start of building the next Amsterdam right here in the United States.


Amsterdam has been and, in this writer’s personal opinion, will always be the ideal stoner vacation spot — at least in Europe. Widely known for its lax policy on drugs, this city has since the early ’70s enticed travelers from all over the world to participate in something that was until only recently strictly prohibited by law everywhere else — Cannabis consumption. Sure, there are many other reasons to visit Amsterdam — its historic canals, its quaint Dutch architecture, its countless museums including the more famous Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh, its eighteenth-century windmills, the breathtaking tulip fields right outside the city, and, of course, the infamous red light district — but it is the city’s tolerance of the herb that not only makes Amsterdam unique, but the mecca for stoners it has become.

is much more lenient than most other countries as far as the open consumption and possession of Cannabis and Cannabis products (hash, edibles, etc.), the country is tied to several international treaties that prevents them from explicitly legalizing the herb. Dutch drug policy splits substances into two lists, one for “hard” drugs and one for “soft” drugs. In 1912 “Opiumwet” or the Opium Law was first introduced in The Hague — the third largest city in the Netherlands after Amsterdam and Rotterdam respectively — in order to regulate drugs in a time when opium popularity

was getting out of hand. In 1919, List 1 of the Opium Law was introduced followed by List 2 in 1928. The first list consisted of drugs that were either highly addictive or harmful in nature such as most opiates from morphine to heroin, MDMA, 2C-B, and cocaine. The second list consists of other less addictive drugs and includes Cannabis and hashish. All drugs itemized under both lists are illegal to import or export to or from the country, prepare, treat, process, sell, supply, provide, transport, manufacture, or possess except for medicinal use as issued by a licensed doctor.

Over the years drugs were either added, subtracted, or moved from one list to the other. In 1961, the Netherlands took part in the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs — the first convention to clump in and prohibit Cannabis with other internationally controlled drugs. The convention focused on banning the cultivation, disNow I can’t say that Cannabis is legal in Amster- tribution, and especially the trafficking of non-synthetic dam because contrary to popular belief it techni- drugs (synthetic drugs are covered in the 1971 Convencally is not. Although it is true that the Netherlands tion of Psychotropic Substances). The purpose of be-

coming involved in an international drug treaty was to put a halt on drug trafficking by getting multiple countries to cooperate on the issue, thus making it harder for drug smugglers to cross borders. And although illegal, drug possession became deprioritized as a result.

and advertised in their magazine, the event is essentially a competition of the coffee shops and their products in which attendees are invited to participate and even help judge. In turn, the economic success of The ’60s and ’70s brought with their free love attitude these shops allowed for the creation of smart shops an influx of psychedelic drug use with Cannabis being — imagine a head shop that sells magic mushrooms, the most commonly used. These drugs were noted to herbal ecstasy, hash lollipops, and Cannabis seeds be decidedly less damaging to society as well as to the right next to the more usual array of bongs and pipes. people using the drugs than in the case of opiate abuse. So, in 1976 changes were made to the Opium Law in TROUBLE IN PARADISE order to differentiate between “hard drugs” (commonly But, even with this odd sort of decriminalization and those in List 1) and “soft drugs” (mainly Cannabis and undeniable proof that the Dutch drug policy was worksome sedatives). Seeking to separate generally peaceful ing (the Netherlands have some of the lowest crime and tokers and occasional day trippers from the dangerous drug-related death rates in Europe), the coffee shops underground of harder drugs, the Dutch government faced struggles behind the scenes that threatened the openly yet unofficially announced that it would not look business side of the operation. Since the cultivation of to prosecute Cannabis-related offences as long as they Cannabis remained a highly penalwere reasonable. Believing that the use of soft drugs ized offence, the shops are often is more of a health problem rather than a criminal is- forced to get some of their supsue, the Netherlands decided that Cannabis tolerance ply through illegal channels which with certain limitations would be a practical approach means they sometimes go through a toward combating drug addiction and trafficking. black market of drug dealers and illegitimate growers. Certain amendUnfortunately, complete legalization was out of the ments have since been implemented question as the country is tied to the aforementioned to allow for the coffee shops to grow international treaties that prevent this from happen- a regulated amount of their own ing. Even so, due to loopholes and the stated arrange- product to sell, but the restrictions ment, the 80s and 90s brought with them the opening make it hard for the shops to stay of coffee shops — cafés that sell Cannabis, hash, edibles, stocked and keep up with demand. and sometimes coffee as well. Without fear of prosecution as long as certain regulations were followed — no Recent problems with so-called advertisements, no sales to minors, a max transaction “drug tourists,” the growth of an underground Canof 5 grams per person, and a limit on total stock per nabis market, and demands from anti-Cannabis crustore — the coffee shops began to flourish. All shops saders have caused Amsterdam to backtrack in terms allow for patrons to enjoy their weed on-site in varying of Cannabis legalization. In 2012, the city proposed environments: underground dens with sliding doors membership-only regulations on coffee shops that ban and neon green lights, homey breakfast restaurants, all non-Dutch citizens from buying or smoking Cancafes with espresso machines and internet access, even nabis in their stores. The ban was implemented in smoothie bars which are also known as juice joints. southern cities like Maastricht, causing huge losses in profits and jobs in the area. In 2013, the mayor of AmAs the shops became established, word about them sterdam refused to implement the ban in order to prebegan to spread, bringing in tourists from all around vent even bigger losses. It was noted that turning coffee the world. This Cannabis tourism was aided by High shops into clubs also led to a big drop in tourists as well Time’s annual Cannabis Cup; held every November as a rise in the number of illegal drug dealers in areas

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where the sale of Cannabis had suddenly become extremely limited.


As the Dutch push against this reversal of Cannabis legislation, the United States is making huge breakthroughs with it. On Jan. 1st of 2014, retail Cannabis stores opened for the first time ever in U.S. history. Whereas the Netherlands has yet to solve the issue of Cannabis cultivation and manufacturing, Colorado’s government has over 130 pages of rules and regulations covering general applicability; licensing; the licensed premises; retail Cannabis stores, cultivation facilities, and manufacturing facilities; transport; warehousing; business records and reporting; labeling; packaging; product safety; signage; advertising; enforcement; discipline; and division, local jurisdiction, and law. This was made possible with the voter-approved “Amendment 64” which was proclaimed in December of 2012.


• All applicants must submit to a criminal history background check and pay a $5000 application fee. • New licenses range from $2750 to $14,000 depending on the type and number of establishments. These fees must also be paid once a year, every year thereafter for renewal of the licenses. • All employees must be at least 21 years of age and residents of Colorado. The owner themselves must have lived in the state for a minimum of 2 years before applying.


• Both written and video logs must be kept on all sales transactions. • Any limited access areas (a licensed area where retail Cannabis is “grown, cultivated, stored, weighed, With strict regulations and hefty fines and fees, the packaged, sold, or processed for sale”) require a state’s Department of Revenue’s Permanent Rules Relog of all visitor activity and can be visited at any lated to the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code leaves time by investigators and law enforcement officials. very little room for questions or loopholes. Within its • Security alarm and video surveillance systems pages is an agreement between state and nation that are required to be placed in specified locations. says the federal government will not interfere with • Marijuana and Cannabis products cannot be sold “Colorado’s ability to regulate the Retail Marijuana or transported before 8:00am or after 12:00am. industry in accordance with state law.” This statement • All establishments must use the MITS soft— a vital part of what was missing from California’s ware program to track inventory which in turn fight for legalization in the past two decades — was requires all users to acquire an authorized tag. included in order to prevent the DEA and other fed• Retail Cannabis stores can only sell up to one ounce eral agencies from dismissing the state’s newly passed to residents (with proof of identification) and a quarter laws. This lack of fear of being ranounce to nonresidents. The stores may not sell other condomly raided and arrested provides sumable products that are not Cannabis or Cannabis-ina realistic sense of stability for Colofused. This means no tobacco, alcohol, food, or drink sales. rado’s ultra successful cannabusi• Under no circumstances is Cannabis ingestion or nesses. The rest of the packet is an consumption ever permitted on a licensed premises. example of the by-the-books route • Marijuana must be labeled with the license number of towards Cannabis legalization an the facility where it was grown, its harvest batch number, American state has chosen to take. its weight, a list of any nonorganic products used in the growing process, test results if any, and warnings if not. Listed below are highlights of only • No more than 100 milligrams of THC per edible. some of the rules that owners and • Concentrates such as oils, hash, and wax employees of retail Cannabis estabmust be labeled with a list of all solvents and lishments are expected to follow:

chemicals used to make the finished product. • All products must be weighed and tracked, including waste materials, and even the weighing scales must be “certified in accordance with measurement standards”. • It is illegal to advertise to out-of-staters, anywhere outdoors where the general public can see, or to an audience with 30 percent or more minors.

nabis products, from driving while intoxicated, and — rather unfortunately — from smoking anywhere in public. In fact, the product can only be smoked in the user’s own home or on private property with the owner’s permission.

Fines and penalties

These strict laws permit Americans to do something the Dutch — even in their extremely liberal country — legally cannot, and that is to cultivate and ultimately manufacture Cannabis. The decision to legalize the industry, even with tons of red tape, was met with much excitement but little surprise to those of us that understand the United States is a business oriented country with a desperate need for the other type of green it can bring in — cash. The newly legalized commodity may cost a pretty penny under so much governmental control but the hardto-get licenses serve the purpose of halting organized dealers and unsuitable product from snaking their way into the wholesale side of the business. With every miniscule aspect of the industry thoroughly covered by bills and codes, what could possibly be missing from Colorado’s own stoner paradise? The simplest answer is ambiance. Ask any Cannabis aficionado who has traveled to Amsterdam and they will tell you that they have seen Cannabis plants growing on balconies as though they were common houseplants (outdoor growing is banned in Colorado); that they have gone into a shop, ordered a specific strain off of a menu, and then sat down and enjoyed a bowl with their breakfast or with a pint of foamy beer in an establishment where everyone else was doing the same. It is an atmosphere with a genuine “live and let live” spirit that is rare to find anywhere else, all while enduring contradicting laws.

• A licensee can face license suspension or revocation as well as up to $100,000 in fines for violations that directly affect public safety. These can include but are not limited to sales to minors, buying Cannabis from unauthorized sources, and intentional mistake made in inventory. •Penalties for violations such as incorrect packaging, bookkeeping errors, or failure to maintain security requirements can range from a written warning to a maximum of $50,000 in fines. • As little as a verbal warning to as much as $10,000 in fines are given for minor offenses such as improper placement of badges. With its lengthy application process, highly expensive fees and fines, and mandatory requirements regarding every single aspect from seed to sale, the state of Colorado has greatly limited the number of retail Cannabis facilities currently in operation. On the historical first day in legal retail Cannabis sales, only about 30 stores have set up shop throughout the entire state; nevertheless, the combined sales exceeded projected sales by millions in the first month alone. The state is thus currently experiencing a sort of “Green Rush” as applications for licenses continue to swarm in, but for now the strict code keeps Colorado’s Cannabis industry under tight control. Consumers themselves must adhere to their own set of rules too, of course. Residents are permitted to purchase and carry up to an ounce of Cannabis. They are also allowed to grow a maximum of six Cannabis plants in their own home as long as only up to three of those plants are in flowering at one time, the garden is kept locked, and none of it is sold. Consumers also must bear the heavy but mandatory burden of paying a 25 percent tax in addition to the standard state sales tax for the product. On top of that, local jurisdictions are allowed to add additional taxes if they so wish. Users are strictly forbidden from traveling out of state with Cannabis or Can-


In Colorado as well as nationwide, the Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits people from smoking indoors with a few exceptions. In order for Colorado to make their own version of the “coffee shop,” several things have to happen. Ideally, the code in place must drop the ban on

smoking inside of a retail Cannabis store so that customers can enjoy the product they bought at the same place they bought it from — much like a bar or café. To produce a relaxed coffee-shop-type atmosphere, several other rules would have to be omitted as well; in order to sell snacks and beverages, they would have to be removed from the list of consumable items prohibited from being sold in the stores. Granted, retail Cannabis store owners would have to apply and pay substantial fines for any physical modifications to the store, such as new checkout points and seating for clientele. Another plausible route, but one that may take a few years and more votes to implement, would be to permit for a separate retail establishment designated only to smoking Cannabis or consuming Cannabis-infused products on-site. These smoking rooms would undoubtedly come with their own set of rules in order to keep them safe and controlled and they would provide a tourist attraction all of their own.

toward Cannabis and the Cannabis industry as a whole would only be possible with nationwide legalization — an end to prohibition on a federal level. Then and only then will America have succeeded in creating our very own Amsterdam right here at home. Colorado may be the first state to cross the line of legalization, but it is certainly not the last nor will it be the only state to have done so for much longer. Join us next month as we turn our focus on Washington in part 2 of Building Amsterdam.

stance that is considerably less harmful than alcohol. If you pick up a travel guide for Amsterdam, you will find at least one page that both lists and reviews coffee shops as though they were restaurants. At this time, Colorado is still in the darker side of the gray area that markets Cannabis in general –— especially to tourists. Perhaps in the near future, Colorado will also lead the way in a more relaxed form of Cannabis legislation — one that will exceed that of Amsterdam’s currently conflicted drug policy. It seems that a true laxness

Sativa magazine is a monthly digital publication read nationwide covering all Cannabis related material, with an affinity for “Cannabis business” related topics. We are ready to help you take your business to a national level as the laws change.



Sativa magazine was born in 2012 only months before state legalization of recreational Cannabis. We have two and a half years under our belt now. Covering medical, political, business, activist and creative, philisophical theories. We are dedicated to helping change perceptions and educating the new and returning Cannabist enthusiasts. Sativa Speaking of tourism, the state of Colorado should con- magazine is a natioanl publication. 502Flavors sider capitalizing on their newfound popularity among focuses on Washington related topics primarily. a growing generation that is willing to partake in a sub- 502Flavors magazine is for you.

Sincerely; Team Sativa


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