You may have heard of the Cannabis Cup, a festival recently held in Amsterdam in The Netherlands. The Cannabis Cup receives widespread attention right across the world with cannabis connoisseurs in their thousands from around the world descending on the Dutch capital to sample and select the winners of the competition.
The Cannabis Cup was started in 1987 by the editor of the infamous publication, High Times, Steven Hager. The festival is held annually and is one of the most famous cannabis events among pot-smokers and cannabis-oriented businesses. This year organisers expected about 3,500 participants. Judges are members of the public who pay a fee of up to $200 to participate in selecting the winners with their task to examine the potency, taste, smell, curing and the overall experience of various strains of the drug. Due to the nature of the competition, the potency of the THC contained in the cannabis can be unusually high, so as a result it is recommended for judges to have a high tolerance towards tetrahydrocannibol.
Sometimes people see these stories and believe that drugs are legal in The Netherlands. This is not true. In Dutch law, a distinction is made between hard and soft drugs. Hard drugs include substances such as heroin, cocaine, speed and ecstasy. Soft drugs, such as cannabis, are defined as less strong and have fewer health risks. Soft drugs are also not permitted by the government, contrary to what you may have heard. Possession of cannabis is punishable by the law with both fines and a jail sentence possible. However, the police are not as strict and if someone is found to have a small amount of the drug on them the police will usually do nothing.
The same holds for small amounts sold in coffee shops. Although the sale of soft drugs is an offence, coffee shops are a low law-enforcement priority. However, in recent years these shops have been subject to stricter supervision and there are fewer than there were in the past. The main reason for this has been tourists, not educated about cannabis in the Dutch way, who tended to cause trouble. The aim now is to allow only as many coffee shops as are needed to meet local demand.
Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blasé.

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