Amsterdam, where everything is legal.. Almost! Part 2
Part 2… The Marijuana Invasion…
by Ma. Isabel Lopez
After the tour of the red light district, it’s interesting to see the souvenir shops flooded with Marijuana novelties – from chocolates, to energy drink, to coconut cookies, tea, beer, lollipops, and more! You name it, they have it!
During a walking tour, I cannot help but smell around the streets of Amsterdam, the aroma of cannabis. If I was given a choice to inhale second hand smoke between tobacco and marijuana, I would probably choose the latter. Not that I am a big fan of cannabis but I would rather have something organic, that heals cancer, than cause the dreaded disease.
The Hash Marijuana and Hemp Museum in Amsterdam is one of the world’s best and most well-known museums dedicated to the cannabis plant in all of its forms and uses. A small but comprehensive museum, it beautifully and simply showcases the history, people, industries and stories – all about cannabis. Everything that we should have been taught in school!
Whether it is for sacramental, religious rituals, cultural, medicinal, recreation or industrial, all information is here. But I won’t focus on the hash or hemp, such as our Manila hemp.
I want to focus on marijuana, as two people, very dear to me, have a medical marijuana card – my sister, and my significant other.
Located in the Red Light District at Oudezijds Achterburgwal, right in the heart of Amsterdam, the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum is just a short walk from Central Station and the Damrak. And kids may enter free, as this place has no censorship nor classification. Talking about responsible parenthood. Open the eyes of the children early in life to better equip them in the real world.
This place is not for everyone. You can either love it, or hate it! Or find it boring. One thing is sure though. It is very educational. From what I learned in the museum, marijuana has been used since 1400 BC, by ancient Egyptians, producing cannabinoid-rich vapors by placing the leaves on a dish suspended over hot coals. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote about a similar practice in 500 BC about Scythians , a nomadic people from Central Asia, and cannabis was burned and inhaled.
On exhibit is also a mosaic artwork in the 12th Century, at the Basilica Catedrale di Sta. Maria Nouva di Monreale, Sicily, Italy, Jesus is healing the blind by applying oil to their eyes. Now, this is biblical! The bible describes an oil used by Christ to anoint or sanctify special people such as kings and priests (Exodus 30:22-23) . In addition to olive oil and various herbs, one of the ingredients was called q’neh bosm a name which is probably derived from the word cannabis. The oil used by Christ to heal the sick also is said to have been based on the same recipe.
Shamans used the same formulation as archeologists discovered a kilo of cannabis in the Gobi desert in a 700 year old grave in northern China. The Hindu god, Shiva is worshipped by devotees with offereings of cannabis, as well as smoking charas and ganha in order to achieve spiritual communions.
Reproduction of an early Assyrian tablet in 700 BC describes a herbal remedy using cannabis for banishing the ghosts of childbirth. In 2200 BC, cannabis was used for medicinal purposes as evidenced by a 4200 year old grave in Hattermerbrock in the Netherlands.
Guys, let me share with you the difference between coffee shops and café in Amsterdam; the former is where they sell cannabis on the menu, while the latter, the café is Starbucks, Figaro, etc.
In different flavors, variety and sizes. In 2011, our good friend and fellow actor, Pedro Pinduko, took me and Mara, my daughter to The Grasshopper, one of the world’s best-known Cannabis cafés place as a smoker-friendly bar where you order the pre-rolled stuff. It was like smoking a cigarette, with booze, food, music and party. On the menu is a variety of local, as well as imported stuff from Nepal, Afghanistan, Jamaica, etc., and a choice of pure, weed or hash joint.
As of 2014, The Grasshopper was no longer selling cannabis, hash, or related products.
The coffeeshop, located in landmark building across the Central Station, is one of the first of more than two dozen such shops in and around the Red Light District that are to be closed down over the next few years. The county’s central government decided to ban anyone who didn’t live in the country from buying the drug because of a rise in “pot tourists” who were visiting simply to smoke marijuana.
This clampdown banned people who live outside the Netherlands from the coffee shops, and closed any shops deemed to be too close to schools.
Illuminating. Even if you are not a big fan of weed, this museum is worth a visit. I can’t wait for the day when Congress approves medical marijuana to benefit the autistics, the epileptics, the cancer patients and those in pain who will greatly benefit from what many consider to be the most important plant in the world-cannabis. Probably, the greatest plant in the universe.