Where are the best places to go in the U.S. for pot tourism?
Earlier in the month, Oakland hosted the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo, the first open-air marijuana festival ever held in our country. Marijuana wasn't legally available for sale there, but smoking up in the street was A-OK, and right out in front of city hall at that. And it was legal to buy from dispensaries down the street, for those with medical marijuana cards. And I'm going to guess that it wasn't too difficult for just about anyone else to acquire some, second-hand, with a little brain power and social savvy. So … Oakland, and the rest of the Bay Area, would be a great place to start. L.A. still has over 200 dispensaries (despite governmental efforts to limit it to 100), so it's not going to be a problem to find some of the kindest of buds out there. Denver, Detroit and San Francisco have each hosted localized versions of the 2011 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup, which before 2010 was exclusively an Amsterdam experience. So yeah, dispensary-friendly states like California, Colorado and Michigan are the best options we've got so far when it comes to pot tourism.
What's this I hear about Amsterdam cutting off outsiders from the coffee shops?
Sad, but true. As of 2012, Amsterdam's famous coffee shops will become private clubs exclusively for Dutch citizens over the age of 18. This is a decision by the Dutch government, not the city of Amsterdam, in an effort to "reduce nuisance and drugs tourism" (CNN.com, June 7, 2011). What they probably meant was, "We're sick of douchebag American frat boys coming over here and acting like complete tools while visiting our utopian city and totally ruining our laid-back vibe. We'd like to keep things as they are, but let's get rid of those assholes." The Amsterdam Tourism and Convention Board and the mayor Eberhard van der Laan are opposed to the law, and are doing what they can to stop it and keep the substantial foreign money flowing into their businesses as it has for years. If you want to have that quintessential American-in-Amsterdam experience, you may have a very limited time to make it happen.
I just smoked pot, just now. How long is it going to be before it peaks, and how long before I can safely drive again?
Every person is different, and it will depend on dozens of variables, including your age, general health, dose, strain, THC potency, how much you've eaten that day, your state of mind, the phase of the moon, your favorite TV show, the color of your shoes, etc. (OK, probably not the last three, but maybe.) In general, however, according to Erowid.com, it peaks about 15 to 25 minutes after smoking, plateaus for 15 to 30 minutes, and is followed by a gradual come-down. This sounds about right. A good two to three hours after puffing, you're generally going to be more or less back to normal, maybe with a dryer mouth and redder eyes than you started with. I can't tell you when you'll be good to drive, but use your best judgment. It's like when they say to wait an hour for each drink you have at the bar to sober up. It's not perfect, and sometimes it's flat-out untrue, but it's a rough framework to formulate estimations with.
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