Coffeeshop Rip-offs, Part 1: Bait & Switch!
Posted 09 January 2004 - 12:35 PM
A weekend Read (UK420 Magazine)
Coffeeshop Rip-offs, Part 1: Bait & Switch!
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.
Part 2 next
Posted 09 January 2004 - 12:36 PM
Coffeeshop Rip-offs, Part 2: Shake & Sell!
It seems making a huge markup on marijuana isn't enough for the poor coffeeshop owners. Go ahead and ask to see a few varieties next time you're in a coffeeshop. Look for those big buds dripping with white resin. Did you find them? If not, you're the next victim in the big Coffeeshop rip-off - Shake & Sell!
Most growers and coffeeshop personnel nowadays have discovered the wonders of pollinator and isolator hash, which is the concentrated resin from the cannabis flower. It's extremely pure and potent, and goes for a very high price, usually double or triple the price of imported hashish. The demand for this has grown as the Dutch preference for these forms of cannabis becomes more widespread.
Unfortunately to get enough to meet their own in-house demand and for those willing to pay the price, most of the marijuana being sold in Coffeeshops now gets "shaken" not once but twice or three times. What does that mean? It means that you no longer get what you pay for. Instead the best part of the cannabis plant, the THC bearing tricomes get skimmed off by "shaking" or dragging them over a screen, or using a pollinator which tumbles the precious buds. Doing this causes the biggest, juiciest resin glands to fall from the bud and thru the screen. This is collected and made into hashish which is then either sold separately or consumed by those supposedly selling you intact buds.
But really this process is akin to "stepping on" the drug, where you dilute it with another substance to make it go further and increase your profits. But rather than adding something, the thing you most want and the substance that gets you high (THC), is being STOLEN from you. You are paying for buds without getting the full amount of THC that was present on that bud when harvested. The cream has been siphoned off leaving you with far less potent marijuana. Just a shadow of what it was.
Do you remember a time when they had microscopes on the dealer counter for you to view those tricomes close-up? Try to find one now. Yup, Amsterdam's coffeeshops once had pride in the products they sold. Now it's just another business trying to maximize profits. At your expense.
Some might see some logic in this. After all by "diluting" the THC content, they are selling a less potent product, which is probably a good idea since most tourists who purchase marijuana in Amsterdam aren't used to the "heavy" stuff. Thus it's like insurance against tourists overdoing it. Also some might say by allowing the coffeeshops to skim off the best and make more expensive hashish, it keeps down the price of the grass. Sort of a subsidy. For an inferior product. I wonder what the EU Agricultural commission would think about that.
But I say it's an insult to those who bred the strains to sell a "brand" of cannabis that is anything less than advertised. Unfortunately, there's not much we can do about. Or is there? What if when you go to the dealer's counter to make your next purchase, you ask if the pot has been "shaken". Look them in the eyes. Note their response. Check out the buds. Can you see sticky resin on the outside? I don't mean small tricomes here and there (there's always some that doesn't fall off). I mean big beautiful buds covered by tricomes that stick to your fingers.
Are you getting large dense buds? Or somewhat smaller broken up pieces? That's a sure sign the pot has been well-shaken, and much of the THC has been removed. If it isn't to you liking, ask to see what they have that hasn't been shaken. If they don't have anything else that hasn't been molested to offer you, then take your business to another coffeeshop. Repeat as often as necessary.
I know there are some coffeeshops and growers who still take pride in what they sell, and want you to experience the full effect of their products. However it's getting much more difficult to find a fair deal anywhere. So unless you, as a consumer, demand unshaken buds, you will continue to get ripped off.
Part 3 next
Posted 09 January 2004 - 12:37 PM
Coffeeshop Rip-offs, Part 3: Bio, Hydro, Organic or what?
Before the Dutch started their own homegrown cannabis industry, most marijuana and hashish was imported from various third-world sources. Many growers in these very poor countries can't even afford fertilizer, and unless they have some livestock around to generate some, the cannabis is grown without any enhancements. Therefore, in the early days of coffeeshops, most of the marijuana was grown organically without chemicals.
With the advent of Dutch marijuana horticulture, the game changed. Now it was possible to control not just the genetics of cannabis, but the way it is grown to maximize such important things as yield, pest-resistance, and potency. Unfortunately the short growing season, lack of direct sunshine, cool temperatures and mold convinced the Dutch it would be smarter to grow indoors or in huge greenhouses.
Always on top of the latest technology, and even pioneering new breakthrus, the Dutch set high standards for breeding and growing indoors. With Europe's ever growing demand for marijuana, it was a challenge to increase yields, yet not run afoul of the ever changing Dutch laws on growing and possession of cannabis.
So the Dutch settled on growing either bio or hydro weed. Hydro weed is grown hydroponically, which means it never touches soil. Water and nutrients are fed through tubes into an artificial soil. Artificial light is provided, and a constant temperature is maintained through environmental controls. These systems can be so complex and highly automated that the grower can watch and maintain a growroom(s) from the otherside of the world via cellphone or the internet!
So basically Hydro weed is grown under completely artificial conditions (often using "sea of green" techniques) and fed a specially balanced nutrient cocktail to maximize growth. There is little that is "natural" about hydro weed. But as anyone can tell you, it can be very, very potent! That is if it hasn't been "shaken" several times before you get it (see Part 2 in our series on Coffeeshop Rip-offs).
Then there's bio weed. Technically, anything sold in Holland with the term "bio" is supposed to be grown organically. This is true for produce or packaged products purchased in the market. But for weed that doesn't apply. Bio simply means it was grown in real soil, as opposed to using hydroponics techniques. It doesn't even mean it was grown outdoors, as you might hope. It might even have gotten it's start as young sprout in rockwool, which some people detest, but is now the norm for all starts.
The label hydro or bio gives no indication about the use of chemicals in the growing process. It doesn't tell you whether the plant was fertilized with organic matter or a chemical stew. It doesn't indicate whether the plant was treated with pesticides, or some natural form of control like predators. For all you know that bag of bud you purchased could've been treated with a melange of chemicals that could really affect you in unpredictable ways.
In fact there's always been stories that a lot of cannabis gets coated with hairspray after harvest and before sale to make it seem fresher and more sticky/resinous. I can't really confirm or deny whether this is current practice, although in the past I've smoked Nederwiet* that sure tasted like it'd been sprayed with some kind of chemicals (it could've been pesticides).
So where does that leave someone who likes to consume organic weed, without chemicals having been used in the growing? Good luck! A few coffeeshops, notably the Greenhouse, have advertised no pesticides in the pot they sell. Whether this is true or not is open to speculation. Unless they have complete control over every variety of weed they sell, it's unlikely they can guarantee anything. The Greenhouse does grow much of it's own weed and has it's own seed company, so they have one of the best reputations. However they don't claim all their weed is totally organic. So although no pesticides were used, chemicals may have been used in the fertilizer to enhance growth.
So unless you know the grower yourself, you're likely to be consuming a chemical cocktail with your cannabis. This is because Dutch weed is often attacked by predators and mold and must be treated at several points in the growth cycle.
The easy and cheap way, especially if you're growing a lot is to use chemicals. Ideally these chemicals should be flushed out of the plant with a minimum of several days of extra watering (flushing) before harvesting. But in the rush for profits this is rarely done properly anymore.
Indeed, the Dutch refuse to cure their pot, selling it still wet, which makes for good rolling in tobacco laced joints, but making it impossible for pure cannabis joints to hold a light. And of course selling uncured pot means it's heavier, thus again making it more profitable for both coffeeshops and growers.
I can state that there are some growers out there who specialize in organic weed. But finding such natural cannabis is very difficult as the demand outstrips the supply. And very little makes it to the coffeeshops. You can ask for it, but again there's no guarantee as the Dutch themselves don't seem to think it makes much of a difference. It's primarily tourists and expats who want organic marijuana.
So my advice is to ask for organic pot if that is your preference. If you can't get it go somewhere else. Let them know you prefer organic, and if enough people request it, perhaps the Dutch will get the message. Until then caveat emptor! Buyer beware!
* Although I refer to the fresh cannabis sold in coffeeshops as Nederwiet (the Dutch term), much of it is no longer grown in the Netherlands, but rather in Switerland or Spain! The Dutch have cracked down on big grow operations in the Netherlands, and it may actually be a good thing since the Swiss and the Spanish grow more marijuana outdoors in real soil and sunshine. So I hereby christen cannabis of uncertain European origin, "Europot!"
Posted 09 January 2004 - 01:01 PM
A very informative post, very useful for us regular Dam visitors.
Thing about dam is you are often already too stonned to acurately judge the quality of what your smoking.
Anyone know of any coffeeshops that def don't shake their weed?
Posted 09 January 2004 - 01:16 PM
"Sick of politicians, harassment and laws!"
UK420 recommends www.greenshorticulture.co.uk for all your growing needs
Posted 09 January 2004 - 01:47 PM
As for shaking weed, i am sure this happens, my mate bought some Widow from the Greenhouse once that had no smell, no trikes and no real effect. But then he never asked to see it, which for me is always a big mistake. Now the Herer i bought at the same time was real potent...i mean REAL potent. Yes as potent as homegrown. Although consistency seems to be a problem. I have had Widow from the same shop which was excellent.
All i say is that if you go always ask to see the your selections.
As for the hash, i have virtually given up on, as said the nederhash is usually good, although well overpriced and some of the marocs are good. I only had good temple ball once really, as for Afghanni and all them other dirty black adulterated hashes just avoid em.
Sorry i been going on a bit.
Posted 09 January 2004 - 01:52 PM
If anybody going to the dam trip in April would prefer to take their own smokables, we will be handing out free Orange Chronic Smelly Proof bags at the airport before you depart for Holland
Just living is not enough..
One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.
Posted 09 January 2004 - 01:58 PM
these bags joolz ,,are they empty or full. it would be a good reason to go ,, but not go just to get a bag of decent weed,, which im sure it is,, ill meet you at the airport ,collect my bag and come home ,, hows that? george,,
Posted 10 January 2004 - 01:56 AM
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." —President George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004
"I'd rather be a free man in my grave than living as a puppet or a slave" - Jimmy Cliff
They ain't 'heroes', they are just footballers...
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