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High Times in Holland

High Times in HollandGetting high in Holland
The Dutch people's laid back liberal attitude is perhaps best illustrated by its very reasonable and unprejudiced drug policy.

The Netherlands has been recognised as an excellent example in drug control matters. By decriminalising the consumption of some soft drugs it has successfully reduced soft drug abuse and relieved its justice and penal systems - as well as created an exceptional, unmatched party scene.

In fact, the English word 'drug' even comes from the Dutch 'drouge' or 'droge-vate', which meant dry [-barrels] (as barrels of dried herbs used to be imported by the Dutch and were intended for medicinal use). The most famous soft drugs available in the Netherlands (to over-18s of course) are weed and magic mushrooms, as well as other legal highs. The questionable content of legal highs and recent criticism of the ingredients and manufacturing standards will mean that this guide will not cover this type of soft-drug. Naturally, we believe natural highs to be the only safe high.

Despite recent legal changes due to pressure from the European Union, the Netherlands is still the best place for dabbling with new experiences. All types of weed, hash and skuff can be found at very good prices if you look hard enough, but decent stuff by world standards can usually be found around the corner. Look out for busy shops with little or no front decor, as well as the pungent aroma of cannabis smoke wafting from the entrance.

Of course, this type of soft drug can be consumed in many different ways. Smoking is the most class mode of administration, however, eating is also commonplace, particularly in the new tobacco-free world which is coming into being. It is also possible to smoke cannabis without using tobacco, by using tobacco alternatives - pure cannabis or a vaporiser (available for use in only the best coffee shops).
It may be important to note for cost-effectiveness in your partying that for a first-timer, eating cannabis can have a strong and sometimes unpleasant effect, so small quantities are advised.

For regular smokers, however, they may be disappointed to hear that in our opinion, eating cannabis is a much less efficient way to get high, therefore the effect may be very much reduced. Also for cannabis food (also known as space food) it's important for the THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) to be cooked into fat or dissolved in alcohol for the effect to be felt. A sprinkle of hash on a muffin or in a hot chocolate will most likely have no effect, as one's stomach acids destroy the THC without absorbing it.

If it's your first time sampling nature's gifts, it's important not to underestimate Mother Nature's power and potential. They can be very potent and end up giving you a bad time if one doesn't follow a few simple rules: keep something sweet with you, in case you start seeing stars; keep something to drink with you, as a good smoke will completely dry out your mouth; keep someone with you, in case you fall over (or worse, particularly in the case of mushrooms).

You'll be glad to know that the only known death from cannabis was in the United Kingdom, as a result of an illegal market which 'cuts' cannabis with other substances to increase its weight. This hazardous concoction briefly appeared in the Netherlands, but quickly disappeared as people could easily avoid it.

For mushrooms, some recent changes may put a damper on some party plans, as psilocybin-based mushrooms are no longer legal. This came about as a result of excessive mushroom use by tourists with some very profound consequences, including death. Despite this change in the law, magic mushrooms which do not contain the illegal active chemicals, are still sold in some smart shops. The most common types are philosophers stones (truffles), Mexicans and many others.
Peyote, or cactus, can also be purchased dried and gives a very strong trip which can cause strong nausea, so you might want to stick with more traditional soft drugs should you be inclined to experience high times in Holland.

Remember to get rid of all these natural highs before leaving the Netherlands as the possession of these substances is illegal pretty much everywhere. In the case of weed, try to keep a separate change of clothes to travel home in, as sniffer dogs can even react to strong aromas left behind by cannabis such as smoky jeans. The main thing to remember is to be educated about the drugs you use so as not to be taken by surprise, whether by the authorities or by your own body.

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