While people may think of cannabis culture as defined by Cheech and Chong and reggae music, there are actually many subcultures associated with the plant, depending on where you go. Even in the state of California alone, the cannabis culture has a totally different flavor when you compare NoCal and SoCal. All over the world, various cultures are connecting to the plant differently, each with their own traditions and rituals around smoking pot. So if you’re planning your next trip, consider some of these spots if you want to go deeper into your ganja tourism.
Though the country’s marijuana laws are still rather restrictive, a number of Shaivites — devotees of the Hindu Lord Shiva — partake heavily in cannabis consumption. Shiva, the god of yoga, mind altering substances, and destruction (of the ego), is strongly associated with “ganja” (derived from the Sanskrit word “ganjika”). In the form of ganja (flowers), charas (hashish), or bhang (a potion of ghee and herbs), cannabis is sacralized as Shiva’s “prasad,” or offering. Travel to Parvati Valley, where a large population of Shaivites make it easy to find hand-rolled charras, or to Varanasi, where consumption of bhang by the Ganges River is both a holy and cultural pastime. Then of course, there’s also Goa and Pushkar, where cannabis is easy to get and, in the latter where Magic Lassi, or bhang, is a popular menu item.
It’s impossible not to include the Netherlands among the best spots for ganja tourism. Amsterdam’s iconic coffeeshop scene has been a longtime inspiration for cannabis law reform. Never mind the rumors that tourists would be banned from buying weed — apparently, that’s only happened in smaller Dutch towns around the borders. If you’re over 18, it’s likely you’ll still be allowed in a coffeeshop, but you won’t be able to buy more than five grams. Grab a book, sip some coffee, and smoke a jay before heading out on the town to wander the city’s beautiful canals.
The Emerald Triangle
This region of northern California, comprised of Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties, is the world capital of cannabis cultivation. Whether you want to go hiking, wander around quaint, rustic towns, or buy fresh produce — and weed — at a local farmer’s market, there’s plenty to do in the Emerald Triangle. Smoke a spliff by the beach (or typically, on a rocky ledge overlooking the ocean), or tour an outdoor cannabis farm. It’s important to know where your weed comes from, anyways, and how it’s cultivated.
In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize cannabis. Now cultivators can grow up to 99 plants, while legal residents over 18 can grow six plants at home and harvest up to 40 grams of bud per month. While the country tries to keep tourists from buying weed themselves, the key is befriending a legal resident to hook you up. Once you’ve got your bud, wander around Montevideo, the country’s capital, or head to Colonia del Sacramento, an enchanting cobble-stoned town on the water.
Like Amsterdam, this one is also a no brainer. Reggae music and Rastafarianism, which sacralizes ganja, has contributed greatly to cannabis culture around the word, from Venice Beach to Tel Aviv. That said, while your goal may be to smoke a blunt on the beach, Jamaica’s cannabis laws aren’t as lenient as you might think. The country has been working toward decriminalizing ganja for medical and religious use, though they haven’t full on legalized it yet for recreational purposes.