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Amsterdam

Amsterdam City Leaders Now Discourage Cannabis Tourism

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City leaders in Amsterdam are considering ways to reinvent travel to the Dutch capital as pandemic restrictions ease, with plans to emphasize the city’s cultural amenities while playing down its reputation for partying, sex, and cannabis tourism. Dutch officials began easing restrictions in April, leading to a gradual return of the tourists who were responsible for approximately 10 percent of the Amsterdam economy before the coronavirus outbreak.

Officials in Amsterdam temporarily shut down the city’s famed “coffee shops” that sell marijuana in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across Europe, allowing them to reopen to provide take-out service only as lockdowns continued. Travel restrictions caused tourism in the city, much of which is centered on Amsterdam’s bars, coffee shops, and famous Red Light District, to plummet.

But as tourism begins to revive, city leaders would like to welcome more visitors interested in Amsterdam’s art museums, history, and other cultural attractions while discouraging hard-partying tourists who negatively impact the quality of life for residents. Unlike many other popular tourist destinations, tourism is only part of the city’s economy. Ninety percent of Amsterdam’s economy is derived from industries other than tourism, giving the city options to plan for the sector’s resurgence.

“Amsterdam is in a lucky position where it could really use the pandemic to try some new things,” said, adding, “This is the time to experiment.”

Last month, Amsterdam’s City Hall launched a publicity campaign with a price tag of €100,000 (about $118,000) to encourage visitors interested in the city’s food, art, and nature instead of those looking for sex, alcohol, and cannabis.

“If tourists only want to smoke weed, drink too much alcohol, and visit the Red Light District, please stay home,” Victor Everhardt, Amsterdam’s deputy mayor, told reporters by email.

Cannabis Tourism Restrictions Proposed in Amsterdam Before the Pandemic Began

Even before the pandemic took its hold on Europe, Amsterdam civic leaders were looking for ways to change the city’s reputation as a party destination. Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema proposed putting restrictions on cannabis tourism, citing research that showed a third of visitors would come less often if they were banned from the coffee shops. The proposal came as city leaders struggled to reduce congestion that has plagued the Wallen and Singel areas, which have a concentration of red-light businesses and cannabis shops.

In a survey commissioned by Halsema and conducted by the city’s Research, Information, and Statistics Office, researchers determined that 34% of those who come to Wallen and Singel would visit less often if foreigners were banned from coffee shops. The figure was even higher for tourists from the U.K.

“For British visitors, coffee shops by far are the most frequently mentioned main reason to come to Amsterdam (33%),” the agency said. “They cite walking or cycling through the city less often as the main reason (21%) than the average (32%) and, on the contrary, more often indicate that a cheap trip was the main reason (11% compared with 6% on average).”

City leaders have also proposed moving Amsterdam’s Red Light District from the center of the city to its outskirts. But some city residents are unsure if efforts to reign in partying tourists will be successful.

“The drunk tourists will always be here. They were already here in the 17th century when sailors were getting drunk in the same bars. It’s part of Amsterdam’s society,” said Berber Hidma, a 34-year-old tour guide.

Tour guide Louke Spigt, however, supports efforts to encourage tourists interested in the city’s cultural offerings over its opportunities to party.

“The problems are the uncontrollable groups of drinking Brits, the low-budget tourists who throw all their waste on the streets,” said Spigt. “We want other (kinds of) tourists.”



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Amsterdam

Magic Mushrooms and Truffles in Amsterdam

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Some people see the Netherlands, and more specifically Amsterdam, as a drug-utopia. A place where everything is legal, allowed and thriving. A place where you can smoke cannabis on the street, walk along the red-light district, and munch on some magic truffles. But what are magic truffles? And are they as potent as magic mushrooms? In addition, why is one legal but the other is not? Although Amsterdam may seem like an unapologetically open city, it’s far more nuanced than that. Using Amsterdam as a reference point, let’s take a closer look at what the true difference is between magic truffles and magic mushrooms.

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Netherlands Drug Laws

Cannabis

It’s a common misconception that drugs are legal in the Netherlands. In fact, even cannabis, which is sold publicly on the streets of Amsterdam, is still an illegal drug. This means that Luxembourg was actually the first country in Europe to officially legalize cannabis for growing and consumption. But how can this be the case? Well, CNN Travel elaborates:

“You may be surprised to learn that recreational drugs are illegal in the Netherlands. Yes, even pot. But an official policy of tolerance emerged and in 1976 the Dutch parliament decriminalized possession of less than 5 grams of cannabis.”

What occurred after this decision was a new culture of coffee shops where you could buy up to 5 grams of cannabis flower, under the guise that it was not illegal, only decriminalised. That evolved and now Amsterdam is known for its cannabis culture, with over 160 coffeeshops in the city center. There are a wide range of cannabis products on sale in Amsterdam, these include: edibles, high-THC buds, tinctures, and more. 

Magic Mushrooms

So, what about other kinds of drugs? How about magic mushrooms? Almost all other drugs are dealt with harshly. Much like the rest of the world. Cocaine, heroin and MDMA are all illegal and only sold unlawfully on the dark web or from street dealers. It’s only cannabis that has seemed to find its own loophole. Well, interestingly, before 2008, magic mushrooms actually were a legal drug in the Netherlands.

Magic mushrooms are wild growing fungi found all over the world. Mushrooms can be poisonous, so it’s important to know what exactly magic mushrooms look like if you decide to go searching for them. The magic kind look like an ordinary mushroom except they have a longer stem and smaller head. Magic mushrooms contain psilocybin, which is a naturally-occurring hallucinogen and psychoactive ingredient. It’s the psilocybin that is responsible for the well-known effects of shrooms. These effects include: 

  • Distorted sense of reality 
  • Euphoria
  • Sensory enhancement
  • Hallucinations
  • Introspection

Magic mushrooms are usually placed in the top tier of drug categories around the world because they are a hallucigen. In the USA, they are considered a Schedule 1 and in the UK they are considered a Class A, meaning they’re believed to carry a high risk of abuse and addiction. Any drug that twists and re-shapes reality are often considered to be the most dangerous drug by most nations, although this is not necessarily accurate. And this is despite the fact that psilocybin has been found to have numerous different medical benefits. In 2016, a John Hopkins study found that psilocybin could help treat people with anxiety and depression.

In the Netherlands, it wasn’t until recently that mushrooms were made illegal.This was a headline for an NBC News article, written in 2007:“The Netherlands will ban the sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms, the government announced Friday, tightening the country’s famed liberal drug policies after the suicide of an intoxicated teenage girl.”

After a girl under the influence of mushrooms jumped out of a window in 2007, protests against hallucinogens took place and resulted in the drug being made illegal. Consequently, the majority of magic mushroom types were banned. All, except one: the truffle. 

What are Truffles? 

So, in order for us to understand why truffles were left legal, we first need to understand what they actually are. And, of course, how they differ from magic mushrooms. Truffles are mostly spoken about in relation to the Netherlands because most other countries do not allow them. In addition, when people visit Amsterdam, many are surprised by the ease of purchasing truffles. They can be bought in coffeeshops and smart shops and usually come in colourful packaging with names like: ‘mexicana’, ‘atlantis’ and ‘high hawaiians’. All claim to be stronger than the next. But really what are truffles? 

Magic truffles are nothing like the kinds of truffles you cook with, except they do have one similarity: they grow underground. Magic truffles are sclerotia, which is essentially a hardened mass of fungal mycelium that grows beneath the surface. Magic truffles are from the psilocybe mushroom mycelium and contain psilocybin. Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic compound and gives both truffles and mushrooms their psychedelic effects. 

Taste & Look

Magic truffles are essentially magic mushrooms that never made it to the surface, and this is exactly what they look like. They look like mushrooms that have never seen the sun and haven’t been able to grow. This means they taste a little like soil and dirt. In addition, they’re very dry so eating them without liquid can be quite difficult.  

Magic Mushrooms vs Magic Truffles

So, what are the differences between these two fungi, and why is one legal and the other is not in the Netherlands? 

Science

First up, let’s take a look at the scientific differences between the two substances. So far we know they both contain psilocybin, which is a psychedelic compound. But also, this is what the National Library of Medicine has to say:

“Magic mushrooms is the most common name given to hallucinogenic fungi containing the psychoactive alkaloids psilocybin and psilocin. In recent years, fungis’ sclerotia, commonly called “magic truffles” have become a form of supply of psychoactive Psilocybe alkaloids since Psilocybe sclerotia are not specifically included in the laws banning the sale, the purchase and the use of such substances and mushrooms containing them”

What this means is that magic mushrooms and magic mushrooms are essentially the exact same thing. However, magic truffles are simply at an earlier stage of development. They are at a more embryonic stage, hence why they are ‘picked’ whilst they’re still underground. Known also as sclerotia, hallucinogenic truffles are a younger fungus, which stores food reserves in a hard mycelium. These then grow into magic mushrooms after time. 

Look

Magic mushrooms and magic truffles do not look the same. In fact, truffles look like what they are: stunted mushrooms that never made it to the surface and never saw the sun. They also resemble a darker-looking bit of ginger. Whatever you want to liken them too, they definitely don’t look appealing. Magic mushrooms – on the other hand – look the same as usual mushrooms, except with longer stems and smaller heads. 

Potency

Some believe that truffles must be less potent than mushrooms because they are legal and less formed. This is not necessarily correct. Both contain psilocybin and the same chemical compounds, therefore they should technically have the same potency. However, due to the fact that magic truffles are standardised and commercialised, they have been able to create and package various strengths and potencies. Therefore, you can purchase weak, mild and strong magic truffles in Amsterdam. It’s harder to do the same with magic mushrooms as they are illegal and are usually sold by people who do not have various types. Both magic truffles and magic mushrooms are digested, they usually kick-in after around an hour and their effects can last from 4-8 hours. Overall, magic truffles and magic mushrooms have the same level of potency, but truffles can be bought to have less if customers require it. 

Legality 

If all this is the case, then why have the Netherlands decided to illegalise magic mushrooms but not magic truffles? Well, it’s first important to understand that countries like the UK and the USA have banned the substance of psilocybin which, as a result, has made anything containing this substance also illegal. This includes both magic mushrooms and magic truffles. However, in the Netherlands, they decided to illegalise magic mushrooms as a substance, rather than what they contain. This left room for magic truffles to slip through the cracks. 

Conclusion

Magic mushrooms and magic truffles are both essentially the same drug, except they are both at different stages of growth. The Netherlands, in particular, have decided to treat each drug individually rather than the substances that the drug contains. Whatever you believe to be right or wrong, the situation is that magic truffles are potent and extremely easy to purchase in Amsterdam. So, if you’re looking for an exciting and legal experience, make sure to head over there and try them out.

Hello all! Welcome to CBDtesters.co, your ultimate online destination for the most relevant and thought-provoking cannabis and psychedelics-related news globally. Read through the site regularly to stay on top of the constantly-moving world of legal drugs and industrial hemp, and sign up for The Psychedelics Weekly Newsletterso you never miss a thing.

DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.





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