USA/Canada: Legal smoking on vacation

Seattle/USA, September 11, 2018

No joke, right now as I write these lines it is 4:20 am Swiss time. Next to me is a bar of black chocolate, guaranteed free of genetically modified ingredients, containing 10 milligrams of THC and 10 milligrams of CBD. I bought the product legally for $7 at a dispensary in the heart of Seattle. Dispensary then also means a cannabis specialty store, similar to our hemp stores, which are allowed to sell products containing THC.

Actually I wanted to avoid visiting the United States in the near future, but when my partner had to go to Seattle on business, it offered us to attach cheap vacations in Canada. At the time of the trip, Canada will not be legalized for another month. However, the stopover in Seattle allowed me to briefly experience how it feels to smoke pot legally. How it will look in Canada, I do not know yet. Once arrived, one notices conspicuously little of the cannabis boom. There is a strict ban on advertising. If you want to know where the nearest dispensary is, you have to do some research on the Internet. This also explains why map apps like Leafly or Weedmaps are so successful. It is simply the only way to attract customers' attention.

Also, people don't walk around everywhere with joints in their hands. First, smoking tobacco in public is relatively frowned upon in the United States, and second, cannabis may only be consumed in private. Nevertheless, you can smell the sweet odor here and there. The marginalized, of which there are many, are not so interested in the prohibition of consumption. And the legal market has produced products that can be consumed quite discreetly in public. Nevertheless, consumption in public is punishable by a fine of 75 dollars. However, there are many spacious parks - the probability of getting caught there is rather low. Hotels are considered private, but they are usually smoke-free. In particular, smoking cannabis is not really tolerated there. Cannabis tourism still has to be sought here. But solutions were found to meet the personal demand. For example, those who want to take a drag in peace and quiet can do so on one of the private buses. Some customers are picked up directly from the airport and dropped off directly in front of the hotel after visiting several dispensaries.

I didn't have much time, so it had to remain with only one visit of a dispensary. My choice fell on a store with the old familiar look near the center, the Herban Legends. Admission is only possible with a valid ID. My Swiss identity card was deemed sufficient without batting an eye. As you know from the documentaries, the product range is huge - the online menu alone already includes several hundred items.

I usually vaporize flowers in a vaporizer. Although carrying such a device is not a criminal offense, it does not necessarily make things easier at the border control. Since I often draw the bad card in this regard anyway, I spared myself this challenge and left the device at home. A classic joint would have been an alternative, but I omitted this for the reasons already mentioned. So what remained was the consumption of edibles, that is, edibles enriched with THC or CBD. It is known that the dosage of such products is not easy. Accordingly, I first researched what would be a good dose to start with. The advice is to start with products that have a high CBD content. Since CBD has antipsychotic properties1), the possible unpleasant effects of THC are prevented. Also, one unit of consumption should not contain more than 10 milligrams of THC. One should wait at least one hour between each consumption unit.

The budtender at the dispensary showed me a box of peppermint candies for $40, each containing 10 milligrams of THC, as well as various sweets, including a bar of black chocolate containing a total of 10 milligrams of THC. I opted for the chocolate because it was easily divisible into smaller portions and also tasted good to me.

After a short conversation, I paid the $7. Still no credit cards are accepted, everything runs on cash. The banks still don't want the money from this industry. Since on a national level cannabis is still handled as a highly illegal drug, the fear of legal problems is probably too big.

Arriving at the hotel, I first treated myself to just under a quarter of the 10 milligrams of THC. A wise decision, because this stuff has it in it. Later, I felt wonderful and was glad I hadn't taken the peppermint candies. The effect was pleasantly relaxing and a little stronger than expected, but not too strong. The full effect also didn't show up until about two hours later and lasted longer than I'm used to. I will probably reach for the baking dish more than the vaporizer in the future.

In conclusion, I have to say that I didn't really like Seattle. The people are friendly and very service-oriented, but they also think they are the best in the world. Especially when dealing with the authorities, one is well advised to keep one's opinions to oneself, which I personally find very difficult. What is striking is the social misery, which I have never observed before in a western city. The marginalized people usually also have psychological problems and are correspondingly aggressive. It would also be desirable if more was done for the environment. Mostly there are disposable dishes and the city is just dirty.

Canada, a little paradise, September 22, 2018

I was really happy to finally have Canadian soil under my feet. The rest of the trip we had planned in Victoria BC on Vancouver Island. On the Internet, I had researched in advance how the handling of cannabis is handled there. According to the Internet, dispensaries are a dime a dozen. Nevertheless, Canada legalizes officially only in the middle of October, thus only one month after my arrival. Medical cannabis would be available only on prescription, according to the Internet, and the information I had researched was partly very different - so I had questions.

On the first day, we headed out towards Sooke Provincial Park to do a little hiking. At some point we noticed teenagers trying to hide in the middle of nowhere with a bong. I then approached the frightened troop - one even ran away - and explained that I didn't really care what they were doing. I was told that with ID, you could actually get all the products right now without a problem once you were over 19. With this information we went back to the next small town Sooke. On the way we met then still a black bear on the road and were glad not to have met the animal already before on the hike.

In the next small town of the same name, Sooke, two dispensaries caught my eye. We immediately visited one with the unique name Medijuana. The store in Seattle still had the flair of a classic cannabis store, but here I expected something more like a bank. There are also quite different store concepts here. The budtender stood at a counter behind bulletproof glass. Above it, the menu was displayed on a large screen. There was an ATM in the corner, because cash is also mandatory here for the reasons already mentioned. Edibles like in Seattle do not exist in Canada and so I decided this time for three pre-rolled joints for the equivalent of 9 francs. That's 3 francs for a bulging, pure bag. My Swiss identity card was also looked at this time probably only because of the rarity more closely. The saleswoman said on my question, how that runs in such a way, it is just a gray area, a prescription is not necessary. More she did not want to report then also.

And so the next evening I smoked the first completely legally acquired bag. So completely pure and without tobacco is then yet a completely different taste quality. The effect was also not to be despised and incredibly pleasant. However, I had to travel a longer distance around the block to do so, because we had rented an Airbnb where smoking is strictly prohibited. Actually, I would not have been allowed to smoke on the street either, but there we are again with the same problem as in Seattle: Where should you then? In general, any kind of smoking is pretty much frowned upon in Canada. You rarely see smokers and in public it is mostly forbidden. I just had a hard time finding a lighter. Alcohol is regulated similarly to tobacco. Alcohol may not be consumed in public and may only be purchased in so-called liquor stores.

Now I am writing this little travel report and tomorrow I will go back to Switzerland. Canada is really worth a trip. The people here are very friendly and service oriented. And the nature is simply paradisiacal, often almost kitschy. Each park is neatly maintained and offers hiking enthusiasts opportunities for hours of hiking. However, the wilderness is omnipresent and those who want to go a bit off the beaten track should inform themselves about the handling of wild animals, because bears, cougars or wolves are not uncommon. Personally, I am very fond of this country and if I had the opportunity to stay here longer, I would probably do so. The fact that no one here dictates to me how I have to maintain my lifestyle is certainly a point.

The Canada Model for Switzerland?

Personally, I think the Canadian approach to cannabis, alcohol and tobacco is very good. No one is told what they should and should not do in their private lives. There is neither trivialization nor demonization, and there is no emphasis on deterrence and punishment. Rather, the markets for cannabis, alcohol and tobacco are consistently separated in many provinces of Canada. You won't find alcohol or tobacco in the supermarket. These are found only in specialty stores. We could certainly think about such a procedure in Switzerland as well. Here, you can get everything everywhere. Coop, Denner and Co. regularly have hard alcohol in the Quängelregal, i.e. the shelf directly in front of the checkout. And behind the cashier, a wide range of tobacco tempts you. It's convenient to buy cigarettes at the same time - in return, going to a specialist store would probably be more effective in terms of prevention than the horrifying images on tobacco products.

Public consumption of cannabis, alcohol and tobacco is mostly prohibited in Canada. Personally, I welcome that to a certain extent. However, it could be softened a bit and not restrict consumption in larger parks or outdoors in nature. There are special smoking areas at events in Canada.

So far, so good. But another difficulty is still the road traffic - in Canada most people cannot live without a car. Nor does it seem that a patent remedy has yet been found in this regard. Meanwhile, the Canadian authorities are planning a 12-step test to test driving under the influence of drugs. Those who fail the test will have to take a blood test, which, according to authorities, “is not as strongly related to driver impairment as (blood alcohol content) is to alcohol-impaired driving. 2)

A.W. Zuardi, J.A.S. Crippa, J.E.C. Hallak, F.A. Moreira and F.S. Guimarães (2006). Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an antipsychotic drug. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 39(4), 421-429.
CTV News, 6/30/2018, How Police are preparing to catch drivers under the influence of cannabis: http: //
Last modified: 2024/03/27 08:56

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