Cannabis Cup 2016 judges evaluate and judge...well, cannabis, marijuana, pot, weed, grass, hemp, hashish. The Cannabis Cup Netherlands occurs in Amsterdam in November (around the American Thanksgiving holiday) in the country that is famous worldwide for its tolerance, most apparent in the Amsterdam Red Light District where legal prostitution is readily available and very visible. In the Netherlands there is a similar tolerance of soft drug use. Do note that the word used in relation to drugs is "tolerance," not "legal."
Coffee Shops and the Netherlands Drug Laws
The Dutch call their tolerance "gedoogbeleid," which means a policy of tolerance towards something that is illegal. If you plan to visit one of the more than 200 infamous Amsterdam coffee houses or otherwise indulge in drugs, it pays to understand the laws of the country. Drugs, both soft and hard, are illegal in the Netherlands, regardless of the ubiquitous coffee shops or the annual Cannabis Cup beloved by the counterculture. Both are technically illegal, but tolerated so long as strict rules are adhered to. Coffeeshops (it is one word if it means a place to buy marijuana; a koffiehuis sells coffee; a café is a bar) may sell only soft drugs equaling no more than five grams per person per day, and a coffeeshop may not have more than 500 grams on the premises at one time. They cannot advertise drugs and no one under age 18 is allowed in. No alcohol may be sold or consumed in a coffeehouse.
Cannabis Cup History and Facts
The annual Cannabis Cup was begun in 1987 by Steven Hager, editor of High Times magazine, based in New York City. Judging of the event is by vote of judges who pay a fee to actually sample the various strains of marijuana entered in the competition. Because of the country's drug laws, this means that the Cannabis Cup Netherlands competition is held in a number of different coffeehouses scattered around the city center. Since the coffeehouses have a limited capacity, the actual venues are not announced until October. The expo venue is also not announced until October, although it has in the past been held at the RAI Center located at Europaplein 22, a bit south of the Museumplein where the Rijksmuseum and the Vincent van Gogh Museum are located, and at the Melkweg concert venue and nightclub at Lijnbaansgracht 234A in the inner city.
Cannabis Cup Tickets
You don't need a ticket to get into one of the coffeehouses where judging is occurring, but you might not be allowed in if you just show up and a judging event is already in progress. However, anyone can purchase a judge's ticket, which gives them the privilege of sampling and voting for a winner. Advance tickets cost between $200 and $250, and tickets at the door, if available, are about $350. If you can't afford a ticket to the entire five-day event, you can buy a single-day ticket. There have been as many as 2,300 judges. You don't get free samples with your judge's pass, you must purchase your marijuana just like anyone else. However the pass allows you entry to a number of ancillary concerts, seminars, the expo, and Amsterdam bus tours to and from the expo. One of the Cannabis Cup 2016 events that judges can attend is the induction ceremony into the Counterculture Hall of Fame, which has previously inducted such luminaries at Bob Marley and Bob Dylan, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.
Cannabis Cup Hotels
Transportation within the city is very convenient, so it's not necessary to find accommodation extremely close to any Cannabis Cup Netherlands events. If you do want to be nearby, it's suggested that you find lodging somewhere in the city center, which is fortunately where the largest number of Amsterdam hotels are located. You can find everything from the five-star Amsterdam American Hotel at Leidsekade 97, near the Leidesplein Station, to the Flying Pig Hostel at Nieuwendijk 100, right next to the Central Station.