It’s difficult to remember when our local mainstreets weren’t populated by cannabis stores every second block.
It’s even more difficult to remember the short period when these stores were actually open for business. Now they just promise cannabis but aren’t open.
It used to be that Nordic countries had the reputation for drug tolerance (which included smoking tobacco). Amsterdam was foremost amongst them.
Alas, once it became a tourist destination for people seeking to over-indulge, the attraction fades for the rest of us. Rather like Quebec Carnival or Ottawa Bluesfest.
Cannabis and its products continue to be sold in The Netherlands and Denmark, but with a bizarre bipolar atmosphere.
When I snapped this pic, the driver the van jumped smartly out of the frame. I asked him why, since the truck was rather conspicuous. Ahh, its still not quite legal it seems …
Here was the adjacent store window display (prices are for packages of cookies, not per cookie):
While some retailers tried to look like cannabis was no big deal, others opted for playing up the semi legality:
Mind you, that old-style storefront cop (american style) looks nothing as fearsome as the on-street security actually patrolling the downtown areas today:
Yes, that finger is on the trigger. And equally alarming were the Belgian train station constant patrols which march in twos with machine guns, barrels pointing straight out (not up, not down), fingers on the trigger, while guard No 3 watches behind them. They looked sufficiently stern I didn’t dare take a pic.
While the Dutch downtown and urban areas had cannabis shops scattered about, the fabled Christiania in Copenhagen was over-the-top comedic. It was a combination of carnival, medieval-faire, plus excessive and rather untalented graphitti.
Pre-rolled marijuana cigars were sold on little tables by short-statured non-middle-class-entrepreneurs who were ready to fold up product and disappear into the crowd or behind a building through piles of scavenged building parts, at the slightest notice.
Customers bought and smoked these “fragrant” cigars while looking around furtively. Or else with much “look at me” bravado.
As I left …
I noticed a convoy of police vans and armed squad who removed a person from Christiania and into the van.
A young man ran around with a cell phone at full arms length, sticking it in everyone’s face, to gather the “evidence” or maybe to intimidate, or maybe catch the cops in some action. It looked pathetic. I may have laughed out loud.
At that moment, the folks inside Christiania woke up to the presence of the police. Air raid sirens went off, short people ran off into the adjacent streets with their backpacks, and the police nonchalantly drove away.
European theatre at its most entertaining.
Why I travel.