Today’s special episode features four different first time stories from across the Atlantic. Rachael Ardanuy, Marley Fair, Ashley Ray and Shauna Harden all visited Amsterdam separately, but shared the same excitement about visiting the city’s famous coffee shops. Tune in to hear about the progressive and relaxed way cannabis is purchased and consumed in one of the weed capitals of the world.
Did you know that 3 out of 4 women in the U.S. have access to legal cannabis? This series is dedicated to women sharing their stories and empowering you in your own experiences buying cannabis.
Ellen Scanlon (00:00):
This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over. Welcome to How to Do the Pot, a podcast helping you feel confident about cannabis for health, wellbeing, and for fun. I’m Ellen Scanlon.
One of the biggest misconceptions about shopping for legal weed is thinking that you need to know a lot about cannabis before you go. Aside from knowing you need to bring cash and your government issued ID, visiting a dispensary has become a lot like a regular shopping experience now that more states have legalized it. This series is dedicated to providing you with a support system of other women who have been in your shoes. If you scroll through our feed and look for these first time stories, you’ll hear from women all across the country about their first time buying legal cannabis. While these women offer a lot of helpful tips and thoughtful observations, they are not without a few mishaps and laughs along the way too. I hope these stories make you feel supported, less alone, and a little lighthearted when you decide to make your first cannabis shopping trip. I really want you to have fun.
I’m excited to share three stories with you today, all based across the Atlantic in Amsterdam. Amsterdam has quite the reputation as a party town, and I’ve heard my fair share of wild space cake stories. But these four stories from Rachael Ardanuy, Marley Fair, Ashley Ray, and Shauna Harden about buying cannabis for the first time might change our mind and introduce you to the positive, relaxed and progressive attitude people have about cannabis in Amsterdam. Cannabis has been decriminalized in The Netherlands, but it is technically still illegal. This means that consuming cannabis for personal use is not a criminal offense, but there are still quite a few regulations. For example, since 1976, cannabis can only be sold in licensed coffee shops. And though coffee shops in the US normally just sell coffee, the ones in The Netherlands sell everything from snacks to drinks, and of course cannabis. Let’s learn more about these different experiences buying legal weed for the first time in Amsterdam. Rachael Ardanuy, the Colorado based founder of the cannabis business law firm, RZA, was very excited to check out Amsterdam back when she visited in 2010.
Rachael Ardanuy (02:35):
My husband and I went on a trip after my first year of law school. We were visiting a friend who had moved over there and went into a coffee shop, bought some flower, and the barista provided some papers and a lighter. And I just felt it was so novel. At the time I was living in Florida, and so I was coming from a prohibition state and all of it was so very surreal. And I think part of it as far as it being just undescribable is because I was in a foreign country and it felt so foreign and different to be buying cannabis and not looking over my shoulder or concerned that it was some sort of trick and I was going to be arrested. It was very surreal at the time, wonderful cannabis flower and definitely enhanced the entire trip to Amsterdam.
Ellen Scanlon (03:33):
It wasn’t until four years later that Rachel was able to purchase legal cannabis in the US on a trip to Colorado. She eventually moved there and that’s where she was able to pursue a career in cannabis law. Marley Fair, a researcher for us at How to Do the Pot also went to Amsterdam in 2019 to explore the legal weed scene.
Marley Fair (03:55):
And we were so stoked to be able to check out Amsterdam and check out the coffee shops, which is what they call the little cafes where you can buy and smoke weed. So we did a bunch of research beforehand and fixated on this one spot called Barney’s, which was in the neighborhood we were staying in.
Ellen Scanlon (04:13):
Make a note about Barney’s because Shauna Harden, a principal at the cannabis investment firm, Big Rock Partners, also made a point to stop in.
Shauna Harden (04:24):
My husband and I decided in 2008 to make the pilgrimage to Amsterdam to seek out this pure sativa called Dr. Grinspoon. It was actually named from a Harvard professor. I think he was a psychiatrist and a cannabis advocate. So we went to Amsterdam, we find it at Barney’s. They’re also the cultivators. And the place was cool. It was incredible to be able to walk into an actual store and walk up to a counter in order from a menu and they give you your weed to smoke. And now everybody in Amsterdam at this coffee shop was rolling and smoking spliffs. But I like to stay away from the tobacco, so my rolling skills also, maybe not what they should be. But I had to ask for a bong. But we tried it, sat at a table and smoked a bowl and 10 out of 10 would not recommend, especially if you’re an anxious person like I am.
I think I twitched and looked over my shoulder for about an hour before a bartender had mercy on me and suggested I try a little hybrid White Widow to walk me back a little bit, which did the trick. It was overall a really positive experience. I learned a lot about my own preferences, about my own limits, and it made me even more curious to try new things and seek out new experiences with cannabis.
Ellen Scanlon (06:09):
Ashley Ray, host of the podcast, TV, I say with Ashley Ray also learned a lot about herself on her first trip to Amsterdam, not to mention a fail safe way to make friends while traveling.
Ashley Ray (06:22):
I went to visit Amsterdam. It was the first place I’d ever been where it was legal. You could just go into a coffee shop, get as much as you wanted. I made a list of all of the places people said I had to go. I ended up getting just an eighth that every shop, and at the end of the day I had so much weed and I just didn’t know what to do. I was terrified. I wasn’t going to bring it back with me. I was like, I just went to my hostel and I just found a bunch of people and was like, “You guys got to help me.” And I made a lot of friends that day. I was like, “I got too much.” I got so overexcited about legal weed that I just literally at every place was like, I’ve got to buy another eighth. And I was there for a weekend and nobody needs an ounce. Well, no, honestly, maybe it was just the right amount of weed.
Ellen Scanlon (07:15):
A common thread with these stories is that legal weed can be a great way to enhance your travels. Marley Fair experienced this even though not everything went according to plan.
Marley Fair (07:28):
We just walked in and I remember being a little bit nervous, but mostly just really excited to see what the experience was like. So it was not intimidating at all. It really just felt like I was in a little cafe or a bar, except there were bongs and volcanoes out on the tables, which was really fun to see. You could rent them to use. So we ended up picking out a pre-role, which claimed to be from California, which is where we had just traveled from. So thought that was funny to travel across the Atlantic and end up smoking some weed from my home state, but it was legal, so it’s different. But we took this pre-roll back to our Airbnb and smoked it out on this little balcony that we had and got about halfway through the joint and one of us just slipped through our fingers, fell down like three stories down to the sidewalk.
And we were feeling it at that point. So we just kind of took the loss and got ready to head back out into the town. So came out another 30 minutes or an hour later and it was still sitting there waiting for us. So we just picked up that sad second half of the joint, sparked it back up and embarked back into the city. And that was just one of many coffee shops that we checked out on that trip. And we had such a great time exploring the city and just walking around and taking it all in. I had such a great time in fact that I ended up returning about a year later to study abroad and I still have a little lighter from Barney’s, which is an awesome souvenir of not only my first time buying legal weed, but also my first time in Amsterdam.
Ellen Scanlon (09:28):
I love hearing about your first experiences buying legal weed, and I imagine being able to do it while you’re traveling abroad makes it even that much more memorable. Thanks for listening to this episode of How to Do The Pot. If you’d like to share your story about the first time you bought Legal Weed, please send a voice memo to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us at Do the Pot. For lots more information and past episodes, visit dothepot.com, and that’s also where you can sign up for How to Do the Pot’s newsletter. And if you like How to Do the Pot, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. It helps more people find the show. Thank you to our producers, Madi Fair and Nick Patri. I’m Ellen Scanlon and stay tuned for more of How to Do the Pot.