San Francisco Slays Amsterdam
America’s cannabis capital dominates toke-travel showdown
BY ED MURRIETA
Amsterdam is the world’s oldest tolerated cannabis travel destination.
San Francisco is the world’s newest fully legalized cannabis travel destination.
Both multicultural port cities offer world-class cannabis. Both provide designated public places to consume cannabis — flowers, hashish, edibles and more.
Both boast picaresque histories, edgy authenticity, mind-blowing museums and Instagrammable architecture.
Both fuel local food, drink and cell-cultured meat.
Both beckon and sate lusts galore.
Everything that’s drawn cannabis travelers to Amsterdam — and then some — thrives in San Francisco, totally legal and readily enjoyable at fractions of the costs, no passports or Euro conversions necessary for Americans.
LEGALIZATION: SAN FRANCISCO +
San Francisco: Cannabis is legal and regulated under Proposition 64, an initiative approved by 73 percent of San Francisco voters (57 percent of California voters) in 2016.
Amsterdam: Technically illegal under the 1919 Opium Act, cannabis is tolerated in the Dutch city best known for tolerating vice.
CANNABIS: SAN FRANCISCO +
San Francisco: Lab-tested adult-use (recreational) and medicinal flowers, concentrates and edibles.
Amsterdam: Untested “soft drugs” for person use, including cannabis flowers, hashish and other concentrates; and Space Cake. Other “soft drugs” include psilocybin mushrooms.
PRICE: SAN FRANCISCO +
San Francisco: Average gram price TK.
Amsterdam: Average gram price TK.
LIMITS: SAN FRANCISCO +
San Francisco: Maximum transaction/possession/personal adult-use: 1 ounce (28 grams) flowers, 3.5 grams concentrates.
Amsterdam: Maximum transaction/possession/personal adult-use: 5 grams flowers or concentrates.
RETAILING: SAN FRANCISCO +
San Francisco: Many of the city’s adult-use recreational and medicinal stores — including The Apothecarium, SPARC, Harvest and Barbary Coast — are world-class examples of regulated cannabis retailing: upscale, approachable and consumer-forward.
Amsterdam: Buying cannabis in Amsterdam, whether it’s dank Dutch flowers or old-school Mideast hash, can feel like you’re transacting an illicit international dope deal — which may be good or bad, depending on your jam.
SOCIAL CONSUMPTION: AMSTERDAM +
San Francisco: Legal social consumption lounges. Details and more TK. … Yada yada yada. Link to my sidebar on San Francisco’s best lounges. San Francisco lounges are concentrated near major hotels, museums, shopping and entertainment.
Amsterdam: There are now fewer than 200 establishments selling cannabis flowers and hashish and allowing patrons to consume the products on premises, down from peak of about 350 in the 1990s amid Dutch politicians’ tightening their grip on Amsterdam’s notorious tolerance.
CUISINE: SAN FRANCISCO +
San Francisco: A longtime foodie capital, the city has a burgeoning cannabis cuisine scene and boasts several local chefs and brands producing and marketing foodie-grade edibles portioned for pleasure, not parties.
Amsterdam: While canna-cuisine and local ingredients are cross-pollinating, Space Cake remains the only tolerated edible in town, and tolerated by authorities only if the trippy treat is made with ground cannabis added to the batter, not infused into the butter, as it was in past and more potent days.
COCKTAILS: SAN FRANCISCO +
San Francisco: Per state law, there’s no psychoactive THC in the alcohol cocktails at Cafe Flore that honor local cannabis icons like Dennis Peron, Brownie Mary and Harvey Milk. There’s just a big splash of tincture spiked with CBD, the wellness cannabinoid, which gets a boost in delivery from the booze. cannabis-infused cocktails, cannabis-infused craft beer and a stoner-friendly 4:20 happy-hour menu–Spicoli snacks crafted by award-winning mixologist
Amsterdam: Cannabis cocktails at underground pop-ups are likely to be mixed with cannabis tincture containing THC, which, when combined with alcohol can induce a condition called crossfading, aka being simultaneously drunk and stoned.
SPA: SAN FRANCISCO +
San Francisco: Book “Love and Haight” CBD hot hemp-oil massage at Remede Spa inside the 5-star St. Regis Hotel. Venture across the Bay Bridge to Point Richmond and get your nails ganjafied and enjoy dabs at Dabulous Nails. DIY spa: Rooms at the St. Regis feature deep, oversized soaking tubs
De La Beuh’s bath bombs … Mary Janes Medicinals – Hash bath … Om Edibles bath salts. Organic, biodynamic from full-sun cannabis flowers
Amsterdam: Massage/spa treatment examples TK TK TK
San Francisco: Yes. Tour details TK here.
Amsterdam: Yes. coffeehouse crawls. Canal smoke boat. Walking tours with educational component.
420 EVENT: DRAW
San Francisco: Free smokeout in Golden Gate Park.
Amsterdam: $26-per-head smokeout (includes after-party admission) in front of City Hall.
SHOPPING: SAN FRANCISCO +
San Francisco: Nothing shouts San Francisco and modern cannabis louder than hundred-dollar boutique hoodies boasting Cookies, the strain and brand Mexican-American San Francisco rapper Berner made famous.
Amsterdam: Bulldog Coffeeshop T-shirts sell for less than $20 online.
San Francisco: SF MOMA, De Young Museum, Palace of Fine Arts, Asian Museum, Museum of African Diaspora, Exploratorium, Ice Cream Museum, Beat Museum.
Amsterdam: Rijkuseum, Vam Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, Sex Museum, Hash, Marijuana and Hemp Museum.
EXPLORE: SAN FRANCISCO +
San Francisco: Use the city as your base and day trip to nearby cannabis destinations — Sonoma County weed-and-wine country (or have a tour operator pick you up), tour Sacramento or head up the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Reno, Incline Village or South Lake Tahoe. Or cross San Francisco Bay by car or commuter train and visit Magnolia and Harborside and Berkeley Patients Group.
Amsterdam: Bike among tulips and windmills in the Dutch countryside.
SEX: AMSTERDAM +
San Francisco: Craigslist. Gay bathhouses. Silicon Valley naked-nerd sex parties.
Amsterdam: The Red Light District. Brothels and sex clubs catering to all interests.
GET THERE: SAN FRANCISCO +
San Francisco: Roundtrip airfare from New York $XXX. From Tulsa, $XXX. From Beijing $XXXX.
Amsterdam: Roundtrip airfare from New York $XXXX. From Tulsa, $XXXX. From Beijing $XXXX.
CRUISE IN: DRAW
San Francisco: International cruise liners dock at Pier 27, providing easy access to public transportation and ride-sharing to reach cannabis stores and lounges.
Amsterdam: International cruise liners dock at the Port of Amsterdam near Centraal Station, gateway to Amsterdam’s main action.
BOTTOM LINE: SAN FRANCISCO +
San Francisco: This is where I sum up why San Francisco slays Amsterdam.
Amsterdam: Consolation sentence TK.