By. Scott “Scotty B.” Whytsell
While talking to some friends over a couple Red Stripes, I was asked â€œwhat is your favorite place to be for 4/20?â€Â I smiled from ear to ear as I recalled my most cherished 420 destinations to date. For me (other than my home in Negril), AMSTERDAM has to be right there at the top. The two cities are both rich in culture, history and availability of the Worldâ€™s best pot! One is the home of Reggae and the other, the home of the CANNABIS CUP.
For those of us who are liberal at heart but donâ€™t necessarily exercise the right to smoke pot legally at home, the Cannabis Cup is a true marijuana utopia. For one week every November,Â Amsterdam is the home-base of the event. For the locals, itâ€™s no change from the ordinary, but for those not able to partake back home, the competition is the opportunity to visit numerous coffee shops competing intensely in categories such as best marijuana strain, hashish, seed store and best hemp products, as well as an opportunity to sample variousÂ pot-based food such as hemp pizza, and find the latest paraphernalia.
Started in 1987 by High Times editor Steven Hager, the Cannabis Cup has grown to attract several thousand tourists every year. Festivities include opening ceremonies, 4:20 parties (am and pm!), tons of live music ranging from blues to reggae, awards, socializing with other cup connoisseurs, star-gazing at the numerous celebrities in attendance (Hey! Isnâ€™t that the KottonMouth Kings!?!) and of course a nonstop orgy of herb smoking.
Mark your calendars and save money!Â The 23rd Annual High Times Cannabis Cup is scheduled for November 21st-25th, 2010 (the week of Thanksgiving). Pre-registration begins on November 19th and 20th for those who will be in town a few days early. The benefit of early registration is avoiding the long lines that typically form on opening day, and also to get a head start on the â€œcoffee shop crawlâ€. All registration takes place at the PowerZone (www.thepowerzone.nl).
Judgeâ€™s passes are on sale NOW!!! The early bird price of $199 is good until June 1, 2010, after which the price goes up to $250. You may also buy a Cannabis Cup judgeâ€™s pass at the door for 250 Euros*. (Euros only, no credit cards are accepted).Â No passes are sold online after November 15th, 2010.Â This pass includes admission to all ceremonies, concerts, seminars, counter-culture guest speakers, giveaways and the expo for five days, plus you get an event t-shirt and program guide, free coffee shop bus tours to and from the expo, and the right to vote. *(Current exchange rate is: 1EU = $1.3684 US)
If the cost for the Judgeâ€™s pass is too steep for you, fear not!Â You can buy a single admission ticket to the expo at the PowerZone for 30 Euros. These day passes are not available in advance. You can also purchase single admission tickets to concerts at the Melkweg (provided they have not sold out in advance). These tickets are available only from the Melkweg box office. For concert dates check: www.melkweg.nl
A preliminary schedule of events, subject to change, will be available early in September. The final schedule of events will be posted in October.Â I look forward to bringing you more of the inside scoop on this exciting city and event in the near future. For any travel questions you may have in the meantime, please feel free to send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are no hotels close to the PowerZone, but the venue is easily reached by the metro under Central Station. If you plan to spend most of your time at the Expo, I recommend staying near Central Station. The nearest hotels to the Melkweg are the American (five stars) and the Quentin (three stars). This area of town is known as the Leidseplein and is a good choice for anyone who wants to attend all the concerts. You can get a lot of free information online by searching â€œAmsterdam Hotelsâ€; â€œAmsterdam Travel Guideâ€; and â€œAmsterdam Coffee Shopsâ€.
Avoid using cannabis in public. It is illegal (you can get a fine, but usually just a reminder from the police); you are better off using cannabis in the privacy of the coffee shop. Remember, there are dogs at Customs! Never take anything with you out of Holland for them to sniff!
Refrain from taking pictures of the occupied red windows in the Amsterdam Red Light District, to respect the privacy of both the visitors and the workers of the district. Keep your camera safe to avoid being stolen by the plethora of pick-pockets.
Remember, itâ€™s a big world out there, GO EXPLORE IT!