The People You Meet in Amsterdam Coffeeshops is a series of candid conversations with coffeeshop patrons about life, cannabis, and everything in between. In our tenth installment, Ype shares his social involvement in Amsterdam, positive and negative changes at the local community center, and smoking among friends.
Cannabis preference: Hashish
Met at: Kashmir Lounge
(Karina Hof for Leafly)
Leafly: Are you a frequent customer?
Ype: I started coming here 20 years ago. In the beginning, I came here more in the afternoon to read the paper with a coffee, and then I realized it was a very gezellig [“convivial”], nice shop. This place used to sell cannabis onsite, but later on—when the Dutch policy said you have to separate the drugs and the alcohol—Kashmir became two places.
So your beer is from the bar here at Kashmir Lounge, but your hash is from the Kashmir coffeeshop across the street?
Yes, it’s Polm Gold. I don’t smoke any weed because it’s too strong for me. I’m used to this one. I know what I can combine together with a beer—it’s easy, relaxed.
Do you usually mix your hash with tobacco?
Yes, but tobacco smoking isn’t allowed inside, so you can use the herbs [gestures to jar of tobacco substitute]. They’re a mix of different flowers, I think, and herbs.
Smells like rosemary. How does it taste?
It tastes like shit [laughs].
What do you do when you’re not here?
I’m the manager of a buurtcentrum [“community center”] in the neighborhood. It’s very social work, busy, with a lot of people and a lot of things going on. When I’m at work, everybody wants my attention or needs something. It’s for me to make sure that each day the whole buurtcentrum can operate, so I always need to stay very concentrated.
After work, I enjoy relaxing here with some people from the neighborhood that I’ve known for the past so many years. We talk about work and we smoke and we drink and then we go home.
Over time what changes have you observed at the community center?
The government is spending less and less money for the buurtcentrums. They want the people to run the buurtcentrums themselves; but, the money is less now, yet the people are still expected to do it on their own. In Holland—in the early days—the government paid a lot to help keep those buurtcentrums open. Now they say it belongs to the people, so the people have to do it.
What about the center’s visitors?
What I see is a positive change. For instance, we also have the LGBT community in the buurtcentrum. They do their thing. They are represented by their rainbow. Maybe 20 years ago, you wouldn’t see that. Now it’s quite normal.
Would you ever recommend cannabis to visitors?
No, I wouldn’t recommend any drugs. I know a lot of people in Amsterdam who smoke; a smoker recognizes another smoker. Nobody is judging me at my work even though they know that I’m smoking. There are a lot of smokers in Amsterdam, but there are also a lot of people that don’t smoke, and I am not going to tell them they have to. Everybody has their own fun.
This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
Lead image: Karina Hof for Leafly.