Scoring Weed in Paris and Prague
How to score in Europe? I’m not talking about sex. Travelling is more than finding out how much you can drink — I prefer pot to a pint. Problem is my poison is harder to find. But weed is everywhere, you just have to know where to look.
I hate buying weed in Australia, I’m shit at making small talk with my dealer and the awkward silence while he weighs up kills me every time. I spent just under 3 months in Paris and got on almost 30 times. Buying dope in Paris is pretty fucking cool. There are a ton of places where dealers hang out. And the dealers actually ‘hang out’. It’s like the movies. We don’t have street dealers in Australia. A junkie selling shit to wasters in Kings Cross is as close as it gets. These guys have their spots around basketball courts, ping pong tables, under bridges and there’s usually a car park closeby. It’s pretty fucking cliché, but every street dealer’s perch is a mixture of practical and aesthetic.
Joinville Le Pont was my favourite spot to buy dope. This quaint little community in the South-East of Paris is based around a river with swans and a rowing club. And there’s a nice little park under a bridge where kid’s play. I was on a date with a girl and we were sheltering from the rain. We must have wandered onto someone’s turf because we were accosted by a dealer rather quickly. I learnt that this guy stood under this bridge in Joinville every day from 2pm. I didn’t believe him when he told me his ‘hours’, but I made a mental note of everything he said. Sure enough he was there a few days later when I went back and every time after that.
I found another dealer by following directions from a hand drawn map. I got chatting to a Frenchman who told me exactly where to go and when. I consider information from drunks as reliable as information from the internet, but I had time to investigate the lead and the guy was right. I give the dealer credit for maintaining a spot that can be found by word of mouth. All I had to do was follow the map to a park near the University of Vincennes in Saint-Denis and make eye contact with the dodgest looking person I could find. Buying weed in Paris is easier than buying weed in Sydney. Dealers are true to their word and their hours, and I never had a problem with someone being ‘off’.
I was only in Prague for a week. I wish I could have stayed for longer. I met this guy named Pavel at the start of my trip. He was my guide around Prague’s ‘cafes’. I stopped Pavel on the street and asked him for pot. Pavel’s hemp clothing and beard made me ask. I’d been conflicted as to whether this was a sensible decision. Once I accepted that I was going to follow someone I just met in the middle of night to a place I’ve never been, in a city I’ve never seen, I was able to chill out and have fun.
We stopped at a ‘bar’ in a quiet part of town. Pavel pointed out that he’d come to this place before to buy weed for a foreigner. The traveller handed Pavel the cash when they were at the bar making it clear who the pot was for. Apparently this is frowned upon so the money changed hands before we went in. A gram of weed costs 200czk, about $10 Australian.
I was the only non-Czech in the place, and I liked it like this. People of all ages sat in leather chairs drinking, laughing, smoking and listening to music. Some kids played foosball out the back while their dogs sat patiently waiting for the game to finish. The air was thick with marijuana smoke. The scene was far removed from what I had seen in Amsterdam where you have to contend with people losing their shit after smoking a joint for the first time.
Pavel took me around Prague that night. I confess that I wigged when he tried to show me the view from the mountain on the outskirts of town. When we passed a camp of homeless people, Pavel gave one of them something from his pocket. Paranoid from the dope, and not really understanding what was being said, I let him know that I wanted to turn back to the tourist safety of Old Town. He explained that he was giving the guy some tobacco, and ‘Didn’t we do the same in Australia?’ I was ashamed at my inner dialogue which had predicted the worst. I apologised and we kept going up the mountain.
I’m glad I continued with Pavel that evening. Two nights later we met again, only this time he brought his friends. We went back to the same place, smoked, laughed and drank. Later that night he took me to the rock climbing centre where he worked. His Italian girlfriend made the most delicious pasta I’ve ever tasted — and it wasn’t just the weed talking. I will go back to Prague and I will visit Pavel again. Weed helped break the ice as well as build a bridge.
Sometimes you just need to know where to look
Paris Opens Its First Coffeeshops Selling Legal Marijuana
Paris opens its first coffeeshops selling legal marijuana
There are two new ‘coffeeshops’ in Paris, which specialise in selling a legal form of cannabis. The first is Cofyshop and can be found in the trendy 11th arrondissement. With its streets bursting with colour and vibrancy at the hands of some of Paris’ most talented graffiti artists, this neighbourhood is the perfect spot to unwind while soaking up the bohemian vibes.
While the first shop is more central, the second shop that sells cannabis in the French capital is E-Klop in Puteaux, a suburb to the west of Paris. After E-Klop and Cofyshop, there’s only a handful of other places selling legal marijuana in France. These include places in the northern city of Lille, the southern city of Montpellier and Besançon near the border to Switzerland.
These coffeeshops have been overwhelmingly popular
There might only be a handful of these places in France, but it’s only a matter of time before more start popping up, given their overwhelming popularity so far.
Cofyshop opened its doors on June 5, 2018, and it hasn’t been empty since. In fact, the shop had to close twice in one week because it was out of stock and the owners have had to hire two security guards to deal with the crowds.
While the queues are quietening down slightly now that it has been open for a couple of weeks, the weekends have been the most popular. At its peak, Cofyshop has attracted as many as 500 people braving a waiting time of two hours or more, according to reports in the French press.
The shops sell cannabis, but not for people to smoke
The products on sale are cannabidiol-based (CBD), which is a low-strength version of cannabis. It is believed by some in the scientific community that cannabidiol offers anti-inflammatory properties that can help people suffering from various diseases, such as cancer. It is also said to help calm people who are highly anxious or stressed, just without the ‘high’ or ‘stoned’ feeling of cannabis.
At Cofyshop, the capital’s most central venue selling legal marijuana, you can buy grass or hashish by weight imported from Switzerland. There’s a minimum spend of 30€ for 2.3 grams.
The product is labelled ‘do not smoke’, as the shop owner insists their sale is solely for those who enjoy the taste and aroma. However, not everyone has been respecting the label.
There’s also a range of massage oils, syrups and herbal teas to be added to boiling water on offer.
These shops have opened after a softening of cannabis laws
There has been a recent softening of restrictions in France to allow the sale of cannabis containing less than 0.2% of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). There are over 113 drugs in cannabis that contribute to altering the brain, but THC is the main psychoactive component with the most powerful effects.
For this reason, any product that exceeds 0.2% is still illegal under French law and people are still subject to large fines if caught in possession of the drug. Most dealers sell their cannabis with around 10-15% of THC and so 0.2% is quite low in comparison.
Joaquim Lousquy, the owner of Cofyshop, has said, as reported in The Telegraph: ‘There’s no psychotropic effect. It isn’t a medicine or a relaxant. I wouldn’t advise anyone to smoke cannabis. We sell it like any other item, just like a furniture shop sells tables or chairs’.
While the owner might be downplaying the significance of this product for sale in Paris for the first time, comparing it to a simple table or chair in a furniture shop, the sense of excitement he’s sparked across the French capital suggests otherwise.
Two new ‘coffeeshops’ have opened in Paris specialising in selling a legal form of cannabis.