I walked into the Green House Coffee Shop in Amsterdam's infamous Red Light District and saw Burt Reynolds. I also spotted Rihanna and Xzibit. Chris Robinson and Kate Hudson are still together here. Everyone is suspended in time from a hazy visit. House policy says celebrities get stoned on the house—but it's polite to pose for a photo.
Soon, you might see the same walls of celebrity photos in Seattle or Denver. What else might you see? Here's a peek into how the Western world's longest-tenured pot shops work.
Legal weed ain't cheap.
In Amsterdam, a gram of low-grade pot runs about six euros. That's about $230 per ounce. Anything above ditch weed runs two or threefold. This is close to what we're seeing in Colorado. Oh, and that's if you're skilled enough to roll your own joint. A pre-rolled joint—if you can find one not cut with tobacco—is basically double. If you roll your own, the paper is free. If you don't know how to roll, the better establishments also offer pipes, bongs and even the rare Volcano vaporizer.
It's a digital world.
If you've been to Apex or Bailey's beer bars in Portland, you've seen digital boards displaying stats, remaining supply and price. The same goes for pot. Only, these digital displays are even more detailed. The usual info—name, quantity, price and potency—are augmented by scrolling features showing photos of plants, notes on their origins and breeding, and descriptions of the type of high they provide.
Weed bars need a theme.
As if "buy and smoke pot here" isn't enough of a draw for Amsterdam's dens, they're great at marketing themselves with intricate decorations. The Dolphins Coffeeshop is decorated like Flipper's bachelor pad, coral and all. Likewise, the Buddha Haze at Baba has an India theme. Since you won't be hitting the Hard Rock Cafe, hit the Bulldog Rockshop for a rock-'n'-roll experience, including a displayed guitar signed by David Bowie.
Coffee shops really do serve coffee—and orange juice.
In Amsterdam, sweet drinks are the norm at pot shops. No place in Amsterdam serves orange juice from concentrate. Stoners love OJ even though it's a myth that vitamin C boosts your buzz and, reportedly, the citric acid is less than ideal for your high. Other patrons opt for espresso with heaps of sugar or a big mocha. My advice: Buy some SBUX stock today, because Frappuccino sales may soon skyrocket in Starbucks' home market.