Once upon a time, when you purchased cannabis from a coffeeshop, you could be reasonable sure you were getting what you paid for. Whether the pot came from Columbia, Thailand or Africa it was labeled as such and priced according to its cost to the Coffeeshop.
Then the Dutch got into growing their own, and the selection increased dramatically with new varieties like Neville's Haze, Skunk, Jack Herrer, White Widow, all appearing on the scene. This stuff was fresh and very potent. Each bud was thickly covered in sticky red hairs and/or white tricome crystals, and there was enough difference between the types that they were easily identifiable to regular consumers.
A glance at the typical Coffeeshop menu today reveals an outstanding variety of cannabis products from around the world! Hashish from Morocco, India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Lebanon. Marijuana from Columbia, Thailand, Swaziland in addition to at least half a dozen Dutch varieties.
Isn't it amazing how they can keep so many kinds in stock, from such diverse sources? And even several grades of hashish, like Zero-Zero, Ketama and King Hassan all from Morocco, all on hand at the same time! Some of this hashish gets stockpiled (in secret warehouses) so supplies can be available on a regular basis. But those menus don't get updated often, and though many coffeeshops occasionally "run out" of an item, it seems they run out of all grades and varieties of an item at the same time. Suspicious? Indeed.
Could it be that many coffeeshops sell cannabis that isn't exactly as advertised? After all it's not like there's a strict labeling law covering marijuana sales in Holland. What you see is what you get. Forget the name they put on it. Unless you're buying from a very reputable coffeeshop (and these are getting scarcer), chances are you're buying whatever came in that day.
The same cannabis could be sold as Skunk, Widow, Haze, or even the generic "Orange Bud", whatever, just so long as it fills out the voids on the menu. But the real shock comes when you realize that the price for the same bud could vary as much as 50% or more.
But the real unsavory part is that they say you're getting one thing, and in reality you're getting something completely different. And they know it.
So the question arises, how can you tell if you're getting what you asked for? If you're looking to buy some imported grass, say Thai stick or Columbian, forget it! There isn't any. Oh, it's possible a little might make its way into Amsterdam, but these days that's next to impossible with all the new airport security, etc.
So what you will get is some other imported brown shit from Mexico or Africa. It's usually much lower quality than anything else, often barely smokeable, and it will be sold under just about every name you can think of, or whatever imported grass they have listed on their menu. It's usually seedy or stemmy, and is very dry unlike the fresh Dutch grass. Only naive tourists order this inferior shit. What a waste! Imagine coming to Amsterdam to sample the fabled grass, and buying such crap!
I especially admire the lengths they go to, to make this shit look like Thai stick, by wrapping string around an ugly dry bud (some times seedy) and a wooden stick. (Real Thai stick uses fresh sinsemilla tied up with hemp fibers wrapped around a piece of hemp stem.). I've never seen real Thai stick in Holland. The last time I saw it was in Thailand in the mid-1980s. But this is typical of the irresponsible sales practices of some Dutch Coffeeshops. If they were covered by EU rules, this type of deception would be a criminal offense.
As far as hashish goes, if it's black and soft, it may be opiated. And lately this has been the case with most black hash thanks to the War in Afghanistan flooding the market with opium. See our article on this. Beware! That Manali or Nepalese may not be pure hashish (they're often adulterated anyway). Stick to the lighter Moroccan or Nederhash, and you'll do fine. But then again, if you pay top Euro for the best, you might not really be getting the best if they're out of stock. So ask to compare all their grades. Do they look different? If not, then you might save a few Euros getting the cheaper grade, and it might be just as good as the more expensive one, the only real difference being the name and price.
The real tricky deal though is the Dutch weed. It's difficult to tell the varieties apart anymore. So rather than make a purchase decision on the variety, I suggest using other criteria. Large, intact buds with lots of resin glistening, a fresh, spicy smell, and a recommendation from the dealer are all good things to look for. Also if you favor bio or hydro or organic, that can also be a deciding factor, but here you're less likely to be sure it's really organic, or really bio, because the coffeeshops don't always produce their own weed, and must rely on the growers word about how it was treated.
And you, dear pot-smoking consumer, must rely on second or third hand information about the cannabis you buy in the coffeeshop. And there's always a chance you're not getting what you wanted or what you paid for. At least it's still better than buying from a street dealer...
So next time you're at the dealer's counter in a coffeeshop, don't be shy about comparing several varieties or grades, side-by-side. Since they won't let you try it, the least they can do is let you inspect it carefully. They used to let you view it under a microscope, but no longer! See next week's article, to find out why.