December 13, 2011

UnDutchable: My baby daddy is a drug dealer

Before rumours start, let me clarify that by 'baby daddy' I mean the father of the little boys I babysit every week. And by drug dealer I mean that Joachim has one of the most unusual job descriptions I've ever heard of. He co-owns a chain of coffee shops here in Amsterdam, organises events and gets to hang out with loads of stars who visit "The Green House Seed Co."

When you think of Amsterdam, what are the three things that come to mind? I can guarantee you that 'weed' is one of them. This liberal city is city is known worldwide for it's relaxed attitude towards marijuana use, catering to 11 million tourists a year, most of who come for a puff of the green stuff. (And not only in Amsterdam...4.3 million tourists visit the coffee shops in the Dutch border city of Maastrict!) And the thing is, contrary to popular belief, its not even technically legal. There is an "open tolerance policy" towards the selling of marijuana because the government believes it should spend more time and money dealing with harder drugs. That's why the law partially turns a blind eye to the 231 shops scattered over the city.

The menu at the Green House
One person is allowed 5g of marijuana on them and a shop is allowed to sell up to 500g. About 4 times a year a group of around 200 police offers raid each coffee shop to make sure they're under the limit (which they're not of course and they lose a tonne of money! But it means the police force can at least say it's keeping things under control...)

Pre-rolled joints for the amateurs
The Green Mile first opened in 1985 and became so well known after they started posting videos on how best to grow marijuana and HD (which now has a "HempTV" channel - it's hilarious, check it out!). Celebrities picked up on this, started visiting the shop, spread the word and one thing led to another! Joachim and his business partner Arjan have hung out with everyone from 50 Cent, System Of A Down, Snoop Dog, Wesley Snipes, Mike Tyson, Dennis Hopper, Sean Paul, Busta Rhymes, Cyprus Hill...the list goes on and on and on...
Here are a few of the snaps on their 'Wall of Fame" which Joachim gave to me for this post:

 Clockwise from top left:  Lil'Jon, Tommy Lee, Alicia Keys, Mike Tyson, Kate Hudson with Chris Robinson, Quentin Terantino

Clockwise from top left: Limp Bizkit, Rita Marley, Pink, Xzibit, Wesley Snipes

Clockwise from top  left: Cypress Hill, Sean Paul, Kirk Reynolds, Kid Kudi, Dennis Hopper

The other day I was chatting to Joachim and his phone went off : "No way! Paris Hilton is in the shop!" Off he went to entertain the socialite, who seems to have had a good time... (Unfortunately he didn't get a photo)

The same thing happened the following week when he got a call saying that Rihanna had stopped by! This time I got a little jealous and told him to say hi to my fellow Bajan for me... They hung out all night and the next day she came back for more. The paparazzi went wild and her "trip" to the shop was plastered all over the internet. Joachim had even gotten her a special "Super Lemon Haze" (which has won the High Times Cannabis Cup twice...)
She loved it.

A couple of weeks ago Joachim was at the annual "Canabis Cup". The award goes to the shops which sell the best quality high grade and seeds. Apparently the police are being a bit difficult this year by enforcing a "no smoking" policy at the Canabis Cup venue even though marijuana smoke falls outside of the smoking ban. Needless to say, there were a lot of angry potheads under one roof!

Sounds a bit bizarre? It really is! This isn't your average business in Amsterdam but Joachim approaches this like any other business...they work just as hard but play a little harder.

NB: No marijuana was consumed during (or after) the creation of this post.

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