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Marijuana Tourism From China To Amsterdam: Study Sheds Light On Motivations

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Marijuana use in China is strictly forbidden. In fact, when Canada legalized cannabis last year, the Chinese government sternly reminded its citizens living in or visiting the country to “please avoid contact or using marijuana.”

Yet, despite their nation’s strict views on marijuana, research shows that significant numbers of Chinese tourists are heading to Amsterdam to take part in its prolific cannabis culture. A new study published in the journal Current Issues in Tourism sheds light on some of the motivations for the cross-continental cannatourism.

The punishment for drug use of any kind in China, including marijuana, is up to 15 days in detention and mandatory rehabilitation, the study’s authors write. But the Chinese government has been known to enforce harsher sentences for other cannabis-related charges. For example, Jaycee Chan, the son of actor Jackie Chan, spent six months in a Beijing jail after police discovered more than 100 grams in his apartment.

Because Chinese citizens are “widely educated to stay away from any kind of drugs,” the study states, researchers were curious to know more about who these tourists heading to the Netherlands for cannabis really were. Between February 2014 and October 2016, they randomly approached Chinese tourists in or exiting Amsterdam coffee shops where marijuana is sold over the counter and invited them to complete a confidential questionnaire. A total of 654 surveys were collected and analyzed.

About 80 percent of respondents said they’d never tried marijuana prior to their trip to Amsterdam.

Participants were divided into three segments based on their responses: cannabis enthusiasts, diversionists/recreationists (people who were seeking pleasure or a diversion from their daily lives) and people who were simply curious about cannabis culture.

Survey responses from the first and third groups “demonstrate that Chinese drug tourists desire to ‘experience all’ and seek authenticity out of their normal daily life and society during the overseas travel,” the study authors wrote.

The largest number of tourists surveyed (almost 44 percent) fell into the category of diversionist/recreationist. In other words, they used cannabis as a way to enjoy their vacation—not unlike tourists from other countries.

“They travelled and consumed cannabis mostly for the sake of experiencing/experimenting with the local cannabis culture in Amsterdam as well as relaxation, pleasure, and to escape from stressful social environments,” the authors write.

Cannabis enthusiasts were the smallest segment of the sample. In terms of demographics, almost half of the survey respondents were women. Overall, a majority of participants reported being college-educated, under 35 years old and not married.

In a recent interview, lead study author Jun Wen discussed why Chinese tourists are especially attracted to the Netherlands.

“You can do a lot of things there that are illegal in China – gambling, paying for sexual services, and buying cannabis for recreational use,” he said. “So Chinese tourists want to go there to find a different way to relax that’s not traditional.”

World Health Organization Recommends Reclassifying Marijuana Under International Treaties

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kimberly Lawson is a former altweekly newspaper editor turned freelance writer based in Georgia. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times, O magazine, Broadly, Rewire.News, The Week and more.

Culture

‘I Can’t Breathe’: Video Shows Grandmother With Arthritis Arrested For CBD At Disney World

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Police released body camera footage of a 69-year-old woman being arrested at a Florida amusement park for possessing CBD oil without a state medical cannabis card on Tuesday.

Hester Burkhalter, a grandmother who suffers from arthritis, was arrested after an off duty sheriff’s deputy discovered the oil in her purse at a checkpoint at Disney’s Magic Kingdom last month in a case that made headlines around the world.

The newly released video shows Burkhalter being handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car, where she began to feel claustrophobic and said, “I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m going to pass out.” One deputy said that she threw up, according to News 6.

Burkhalter, who says her doctor in Tennessee recommended CBD, later spent 12 hours in custody and was released on a $2,000 bond.

Burkhalter requested to be transported to the jail alone, as opposed to being transported along with another individual who was arrested for possession of a cannabis vaporizer, and a deputy made a call to accommodate her. She was allowed to be taken to the facility in the front seat of a separate patrol car.

“The older female said she gets claustrophobic, and feels like she’s going to pass out, and wants somebody else so she can go by herself,” the deputy said on a call.

Once she was in the front seat with air conditioning on, she said she felt better and thanked the deputy.

“I couldn’t breathe back there,” she reiterated.

When the arrest was first reported, reform advocates condemned the park and sheriff’s department for subjecting an older woman to an arrest on a family vacation for simple possession of a non-intoxicating compound that is known to treat pain and inflammation.

CBD is legal for medical purposes in Florida, but individuals must be registered to possess medical cannabis in the state. Hemp-derived CBD was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet developed regulatory guidelines allowing for its lawful marketing as a food item or supplement.

Prosecutors dropped the charges against Burkhalter earlier this month, finding her case unsuitable for prosecution. She’s since announced plans to file a lawsuit against Disney and the sheriff’s department.

“Horrific treatment that they placed upon this church-going, law-abiding grandmother,” her lawyer said at a press conference.

In a similarly confounding recent case, a 72-year-old woman was arrested at a Texas airport after security discovered CBD oil. She was charged with a felony that carried a maximum sentence of 20 years, and she stayed in custody for two days.

“To be honest, I did not even think about the possibility of my CBD being illegal or being challenged,” Lena Bartula, who was going to visit family in Oregon, said. “It is such an integral part of my wellness that it got thrown into my bag along with Vitamin C and oregano oil.”

“Had I thought about it, I would have remembered that I could buy it in Portland,” she said.

The charges in that case were also dropped about two months after the arrest.

In other recent cannabis enforcement action called out as excessive by reform advocates, Missouri police officers searched through the belongings of a man with stage-four pancreatic cancer in March after a security guarded reported the smell of marijuana.

The officers found nothing, but video of the search sparked public outrage over the harassing behavior of the officers toward a sick man who said he does benefit from medical cannabis.

Video: Missouri Police Search Cancer Patient’s Bags For Marijuana In Hospital Room

Photo courtesy of YouTube.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Culture

Presidential Candidate Jokes About Why Denver Decriminalized Psychedelic Mushrooms

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Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) joked on Thursday that Denver voters approved a measure to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms because they thought the state of Colorado was running low on marijuana.

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate made the remark during an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers. The host asked Bennet if it was “true that magic mushrooms are going to be legal in Colorado.”

(The measure actually simply decriminalizes psilocybin mushrooms for adults, and only in the city of Denver.)

Bennet slapped his knee and quipped, “I think that our voters just voted to get Denver to do that, and I think they might’ve thought that we were out of marijuana all of a sudden.”

“And by the way, we’re not out of marijuana in Colorado,” he said.

“That’s what it says on the state flag now, right?” Meyers said.

“Yeah, exactly,” Bennet replied.

The senator, who previously served as the superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, has cosponsored several wide-ranging cannabis bills in Congress, including legislation to federally deschedule marijuana and penalize states that enforce cannabis laws in a discriminatory way.

But before his state voted to legalize marijuana in 2012, Bennet stood opposed.

It’s not clear how he voted on Denver’s historic psilocybin initiative.

At least Bennet is aware of the measure and was willing to joke about it, though. Several of his colleagues who have worked on cannabis issues declined to weigh in on decriminalizing psychedelics when asked by Marijuana Moment recently.

Congressional Lawmakers Have Little To Say About Decriminalizing Psychedelics Following Denver Victory

Photo courtesy of YouTube/Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Culture

Horses Should Lay Off CBD, Equestrian Sports Regulator Says

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Hay is for horses, but CBD isn’t.

That’s according to the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF), which set the rules for most horse-related sports in the country, including dressage, jumping and endurance riding.

In a press release on Tuesday, the organization clarified that just because the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and its derivatives such as CBD, that doesn’t mean that horses competing in various equestrian events are allowed to partake.

“From time to time, new products appear on the equine supplement market claiming to enhance a horse’s performance,” USEF, which does not regulate thoroughbred horse racing, wrote. “Over the last several years, cannabinoids have gained increased attention and have become nearly mainstream.”

CBD, both synthetic and natural, “are likely to effect the performance of a horse due to its reported anxiolytic effects” and the products are therefore “no different than legitimate therapeutics that effect mentation and behavior in horses.”

“It is for these reasons that USEF prohibits CBD and all related cannabinoids,” USEF explained. “Horses competing under USEF rules who test positive for natural cannabinoids, synthetic cannabinoids and other cannabimimetics will be considered in violation of GR4 beginning September 1, 2019.”

It’s unclear whether USEF has already developed technology capable of testing for CBD metabolites, as standard cannabis testing instruments are generally only designed to detect for metabolites of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

However, USEF said that, in fact, “analytical methods are being implemented to detect CBD and similar cannabinoids.”

What about the human athletes involved in the horse sports? USEF referred anyone curious about that policy to the World Anti-Doping Code, which does allow the use of CBD while maintaining a ban on THC.

Professional golfers are also being warned about using CBD products. Last month, the PGA Tour published a newsletter urging caution when using CBD, as some products may contain trace amounts of THC that could turn up in a drug test.

As in equestrian sporting, golfers are also barred from using marijuana.

PGA Issues Warning To Golfers Using CBD Products

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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