MMJ Destinations: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; AKA: VANSTERDAM!

By: Scott “Scotty B.” Whytsell

It was in the mid-to-late 1990’s when I was first introduced to California medicinal marijuana.  It was at that time, while exploring the MMJ culture, that I became familiar with what seemed to be two very long-standing debates: “indoor versus outdoor” and “Cali bud versus BC bud”.  Bring up either discussion in an MMJ forum and get ready for some heated opinions!

One can stop by their local collective or co-op here in San Diego and come to their own conclusion on the “indoor/outdoor” issue, but for the latter debate, you must grab your passport and fly or drive to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; more commonly referred to as “Vansterdam” in homage to Amsterdam, that great Dutch city known for its extremely liberal drug law policies, not to mention home of some of the world’s best pot!

Vancouver is a coastal city located in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is named for British Captain George Vancouver who explored the area in the 1790’s. The name Vancouver itself originates from the Dutch “van Coevorden”, denoting somebody from Coevorden, a city in the Netherlands.

The largest metropolitan area in western Canada, Vancouver ranks 3rd largest in the country.  According to the 2006 census, Vancouver had a population of 578,041. While forestry remains its largest industry, Vancouver is well known as an urban center surrounded by nature, making tourism its second largest industry. It also is the third largest film production centre in North America after Los Angeles and New York City, earning it the nickname Hollywood North.

Vancouver is one of the few major cities in North America without a freeway leading directly into the downtown core. As a result, development has taken a different course than in most other major North American cities, resulting in a relatively high use of public transit and cycling, a dense and walkable core, and a development model that is studied and emulated elsewhere.

Vancouver has ranked highly in worldwide “livable city” rankings for more than a decade. It has hosted many international conferences and events, including the 1976 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements and the 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication. The 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics were held in Vancouver and nearby Whistler, a resort community 78 miles north of the city.
Average temperatures for May and June run from the low 50’s to the high 60’s.


Flights from San Diego (SAN) to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) currently run as low as $384 for the 6 ½ hour flight.  A new transit line connecting the airport to downtown Vancouver makes travel to the world famous “Pot Block” a mere 20 minutes.  Although this is the most direct way to get to your destination, other options include flying to the Abbotsford International Airport (YXX), located about 50 miles east of Vancouver, or landing in Seattle (SEA) and driving across the border. Driving time is approximately 2 ½ -3 hours.


If this is your first time to this exciting city, a professional tour guide may be the perfect way to enjoy a very informative, stress-free adventure. One company in particular, Vansterdam Tours (, offers two organized packages, the 2-hour “Vansterdam Starter Tour” for $150 ($125 each for groups of 2 or more) and the ½ day…I mean the 4-hour 20 minute “Get Baked in BC Tour” costing $250.

The Starter Tour, according to the website, is “a perfect tour for anyone who has never visited Vansterdam before, or just hasn’t experienced everything the city has to offer.”  This tour is a crash course in Vancouver stoner-ology.  The tour is a very in-depth experience of Vansterdam’s famous “Pot Block”, including 3 different smoking lounges and cafes, the world headquarters of the Cannabis Culture Magazine and BC Marijuana Party, POT TV headquarters, and the “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery’s new 420 convenience store.

With the Get Baked in BC Tour, not only do you get to experience and take in everything the “Pot Block” has to offer, you also get a chance to veer off the beaten pot tourist path by visiting a few little known, local stoner destinations.

As stated in the website, “all tours are led by world class marijuana smoking professionals with years of experience in the city and with the marijuana scene, giving you everything you need to make your experience in the city as comfortable and hassle free as possible.”  Enough said.

Remember, it’s a cool World out there…

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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