European cannabis consumers, patients, and activists are watching with a bit of envy as legalization in the United States moves beyond Colorado and Washington to other states, from California in the west to Massachusetts in the east. Mainstream media in Europe now routinely report that hundreds of millions of dollars are being collected annually in each state in “weed taxes” and how legalization has created jobs, reduced prison occupancy, and led to capital improvements at schools, parks, and community centers.
Legalization activists in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, the Czech Republic, and other European nations with relatively liberal drug policies are discussing American cannabis regulation. Some are even crafting legislation based on laws enacted in the first US. states to end the prohibition of cannabis.
But for a growing number of Europeans, talking theory isn’t enough. They want to see firsthand how it feels to live—if only for a few days—in states where cannabis is legal. Leafly caught up with one of them, Vladan M. (he asked we not use his full name), a 29-year-old chemist from the Czech Republic who spent a week exploring Colorado’s cannabis market.
The more things change…
“The most striking feature of Colorado’s legalization, for me, was the fact that during the whole holiday I failed to notice anything extraordinary or ‘different.’ Be it Denver’s downtown, the outskirts of Boulder, or villages in the countryside, people looked like anywhere else. There were no stoned kids on the streets, fatal car accidents everywhere, or other nonsense predicted by both American and European prohibitionists.”
As a longtime recreational cannabis consumer who has always had to rely on the black market or home cultivation—both illegal in his home country—Vladan couldn’t wait to dabble in Colorado’s legal market and sample some legal stuff for the first time in his life.
“Me and two of my friends choose a very discreet dispensary in Boulder, which had the best online rating, and bought a selection of following strains: Blueberry, Maui Wowie, and Lemon Kush, plus some edibles,” he said. “We really appreciated the politeness and helpfulness of the staff, the professionalism of the whole place, and of course the quality of the cannabis we bought.”
Politicians: See it firsthand!
Vladan also praised the fact that every time he and his friends were buying cannabis, they were required to present ID. He and other cannabis tourists visiting the US from Europe are convinced that if law enforcement and conservative politicians from European countries would simply get on a plane and see with their own eyes how legalization works in Colorado, their prohibitionist views would quickly change. “The whole industry seems to be highly professional and decent,” Vladan said. “I think that if I hadn’t been looking specifically for dispensaries and talking with people about cannabis, I probably wouldn’t have noticed that this plant is legal here.”
Vladan is currently working for a water cleaning company whose lab—largely thanks to his input—has recently started to offer cannabinoid testing for public and private companies. Now that he’s back in Czechia, what’s his favorite memory from his Colorado adventure?
“I still have to smile when I remember walking past a hippie-type guy in Denver who was having a pleasant, cannabis-related chat with a local police officer,” he said. “It made me realize that this is how it should be everywhere around the world.”