Amsterdam Marijuana Vs. Medical Marijuana Programs in the U.S.

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By now, the terms Amsterdam and marijuana almost go hand-in-hand; the city is known across the world for its easy access to marijuana, and indeed, its MMJ program is often heralded by American MMJ proponents as the direction our own country should head down. For all the attention that Amsterdam gets for its marijuana cafes and the like, it might seem foolish to ask whether America’s blossoming MMJ program really stacks up.
With that said, the AllBud team was recently in Amsterdam, and while we were there we made a few notes about the MMJ program there, and how it compares with what we’ve seen back home. You may be surprised to learn that, when ranking the two places and their unique takes on medical marijuana, it’s not an open-and-shut case. In fact, there are some categories in which states like Colorado have actually improved upon what Amsterdam is doing.

Where the U.S. Comes Out Ahead

There are a few specific notes we might make in which the United States’ various MMJ programs are—comparatively—better than anything you’ll find in Amsterdam.
  •  First and foremost, perhaps, is the fact that U.S. programs simply offer more variety. We have blogged in the past about how different varieties of MMJ have wildly different mental and physical effects, and how MMJ patients are smart to try a few different strains to see what works best for their particular healthcare needs. Well, believe it or not, it’s actually much easier to do that here in the States, or at least in states that have MMJ programs. Amsterdam may win in terms of ease of access, but U.S. programs dominate in terms of sheer variety.
  • It’s not just that U.S. programs have a greater variety of strains, either; it’s that those strains are clearly labeled, with the ratios of indica to sativa made available to patients. In other words, U.S. programs make it easier for you to be a well-informed MMJ patient, and to truly know what you’re getting with your MMJ purchases.
  •  We’re not just talking about the variety of strains that are available, but even the fact that U.S. dispensaries offer way more in terms of edibles. For that matter, U.S. dispensaries tend to offer way more in terms of concentrates, whereas hash is the only thing that’s really available in Amsterdam.
  • In the U.S., inventories change pretty regularly, being updated with newer forms of MMJ—again, making it easy for patients to try different things and learn what works best for their medical needs.
  • Something else worth noting is that most U.S. programs have menus available online. This may sound like a minor convenience, but it’s really not: Think of the many MMJ patients who really need one specific strain, and who may live a long way away from the closest dispensary. Being able to track down the closest place that has what you need is huge, and it’s a perk that U.S. MMJ programs have done well to offer.
  • This may be somewhat anecdotal, but, in our experience, U.S. dispensaries seem to offer much fresher buds—buds that just look better. Just as significant, perhaps, is the fact that U.S. dispensaries seem to display buds better, more clearly—offering the patient a better look at what’s on offer.

Are we saying that the U.S. is a better place to be an MMJ patient, in every respect? Of course not. Look: We realize that in Amsterdam you can find marijuana readily available pretty much everywhere, and you can use your MMJ products under any context without having to worry about the kinds of legal turmoil back here in the States. And that’s definitely nice. However, the U.S. has its strong points—and by the way, one final note is that prices seem more or less comparable in these two places, so that’s really not an issue.
For all the frustrations many of us have felt about the slow and steady march toward MMJ acceptance and implementation in the U.S., then, let’s pause to acknowledge that we’re getting plenty of stuff right—even in comparison to Amsterdam.

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