I used to smoke a lot of weed.
Not, mind you, as much as some people that I know, but I’ve smoked a lot. When I lived in Hawaii, the number of times I put a joint/pipe/bong/vaporizer to my lips increased exponentially. Small amounts of weed kept for personal use is generally well tolerated by Hawaii police departments, and, let’s face it, those Hawaiians grow some damn fine cannabis.
However, when I left the United States for this life around the world, I put my pot smoking on the back burner. That’s not to say that I’ve never gotten high over the last three years, but I can count those times on one hand. While I wasn’t particularly worried about prosecution in places like Peru and Taiwan, I just felt it was wise not to actively seek it out.
Living in the Middle East is a very different story. I know weed exists here, but I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. Due to the very real threat of lengthy jail time, I haven’t smoked weed in two years.
Until last week.
We went to Amsterdam on a whim, but the promise of a smoke was very, very alluring. When we arrived at the central train station, the smell was immediately apparent. As we walked the streets, the coffeeshops outnumbered the bars right away, and throngs of people walked by with that undeniable blissed out look on their faces that screams “I’m so high right now!”
I could have easily been stoned within minutes of our arrival, but I wasn’t. For some reason I was terrified.
I had so many questions. How does it work? Do you just walk into the shop and buy it? What if it’s really strong weed and I get stupid? Why am I being such a wimp?
We didn’t smoke that night, and instead decided to smoke the next day at lunch. I could live with that. It bought me some time.
The next day, as the time drew near, we decided to go to what is undeniably Amsterdam’s most famous coffeeshop, The Bulldog. We walked into a mob scene. The place was packed, there was not a free table in sight, and the menu that I spotted was as thick as a family photo album. I was immediately overwhelmed and we left.
We walked back down the street, and just as I suggested we have a beer instead, the small and unassuming coffeeshop called Highway came into view. We quickly ducked in. A bored and somewhat surly Dutchman stood at the small bar, and a single page menu lay on the counter. A pre-rolled joint filled with a strain called AK-47 was at the top of the menu, and at 8 Euros it seemed like a wise choice, so that’s what we ordered.
The bartender reached under the counter and produced a joint in a plastic test tube. He dropped it into my hand, and all I could do was gape. It was huge. I haven’t seen a joint that big anywhere but Cheech and Chong movies. It had to contain at least two grams.
With my prize in hand we climbed the stairs to the seating area, which was unoccupied save for three guys relaxing limply at a table in the corner. We sat on a couch, I uncapped the tube, and the joint tumbled into my palm. I had my lighter at the ready and sparked it up.
Two minutes and two puffs later, we were back on the street and just as I was about to lament that I wasn’t high, I realized that I was high. I was very high, but in that delicious, sweet, and mellow way that had my body loose and my mind floating. We walked a few blocks, not saying much, and arrived back at the main canal. We spied a canal tour boat that appeared ready to leave and we jumped on.
Best decision ever.
We spent the next hour in relative silence, gazing out the boat’s windows at the gorgeous city, pausing to joke with each other about things that are only funny when you’re stoned. By the time the tour ended the bulk of that super stoned feeling had worn off, and we set off to roam the streets, pausing every hour or two for another puff from the joint I had stowed in my bag.
As we walked, and talked, I realized that I’ve missed this. I miss smoking weed. I miss the feeling of relaxation, the bright mood, and the jokes. I miss the way food tastes, the way colors brighten, and the way my normally rapid thoughts slow down. I happily joined the ranks of every other blissed out person in Amsterdam that day.
When all was said and done, I was forced to part with a joint about a quarter of its original size, because as much I enjoyed it, it was really good weed and we just couldn’t smoke it all. It was a sad goodbye.
However, I have decided that I need to live in a place with access to cannabis and limited fear of prosecution for smoking it. I enjoy it that much.
And on that note, I hear that Uruguay is nice. Very nice indeed.