When it comes to cannabis tourist destinations, Amsterdam has historically served as the unofficial international cannabis capital of the world. Starting in the mid-1970s Amsterdam’s legendary cannabis cafes became top vacation destinations for cannabis enthusiasts across the globe.
Unfortunately, if Amsterdam’s current mayor has its way those same cannabis cafes will no longer be open to tourists (residents only). If/when that happens, it will obviously have a huge impact on cannabis tourism in Amsterdam, although cannabis speakeasies for tourists will likely still exist.
Amsterdam No Longer Europe’s Cannabis Capital?
Limiting cannabis cafe access would not be the only factor that could result in Amsterdam losing its unofficial title of being Europe’s cannabis capital. Thriving cannabis communities and industries, as well as other factors in other European countries, are helping them rise up the ranks among global cannabis enthusiasts. Below are some examples:
Germany: Thanks to recent policy reforms, Germany is now home to the largest legal medical cannabis industry in Europe. Adult-use cannabis is still illegal, although, with the way things are going it’s only a matter of time before that changes. One could easily argue that Germany is now the cannabis capital of Europe, at least from a legal industry standpoint.
France: From a pure legality standpoint France is far from being the cannabis capital of Europe. Adult-use cannabis is not legal, and France’s medical cannabis program is still in its infancy. With that being said, France is home to the largest cannabis consumption rate out of any European country, even greater than that of the Netherlands.
Spain: Cannabis clubs may not be fully legal in Spain, however, there’s no denying that they are extremely popular with residents of Spain and tourists alike. Spain has some of the best hashish offerings out of any country on earth and is home to one of the most well-established cannabis communities on the planet as well.
Italy: In late 2019 Italy’s Supreme Court ruled that small-scale personal cultivation was legal. Specifically, the Court ruled that “small amounts grown domestically for the exclusive use of the grower” should be permitted. The decision is not as solid as if legislation was passed to legalize a robust industry complete with cannabis home delivery, however, it’s still very significant.
Albania: The biggest land route for illegal cannabis smuggling goes through Albania. Albania is also home to an extensive (illegal) cannabis cultivation community. A significant amount of unregulated cannabis that is found in Europe has traveled through Albania. If/when Albania updates its cannabis laws and gets on the right side of history, it is sure to become a top legal cannabis tourist destination.
Switzerland: Cannabis is already legal in Switzerland, sort of. Since 2017 cannabis that is less than 1% THC has been legal to sell/purchase in Switzerland, and a lot of people are making purchases. So much so that it has improved Switzerland’s status as a cannabis-friendly country in recent years.
Luxembourg: This European nation may not have as much history from a cannabis community perspective compared to other countries on the continent, however, it may very well be the first country in Europe to legalize cannabis for adult use in a manner that goes beyond low-THC cannabis products.
The debate regarding what city/country is the cannabis capital of Europe is likely to go on indefinitely. Historically, Amsterdam was hands down the capital, however, the situation has clearly evolved and will continue to evolve as cannabis reform continues to spread across Europe. The debate is not as clear cut as it once was.
Several areas now have an argument to be made that they are, or soon will be, the cannabis capital of Europe. In a sense, many of them are correct, even simultaneously. It’s not too different from the argument regarding which European country has the best food – many countries in Europe have world class culinary scenes and could be considered to have the best food in Europe. Cannabis is the same from that perspective, in that it depends on who you ask and what they consider to constitute being ‘the best.’
Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference. Upcoming conferences include Berlin (August 25-27), Zurich (August 31-September 1), and Barcelona (October 7).