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Coronavirus Triggers Run on Amsterdam Coffeeshops

PHOTO Rob Harvey


Coronavirus Triggers Run on Amsterdam Coffeeshops

Panic and long queues Sunday transition to orderly business and to-go orders in European cannabis capital.

Mimicking scenes in Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, Dutch cannabis consumers queued up outside Amsterdam’s legendary coffeeshops of fear that the spread of the novel coronavirus would shutter the city’s cannabis cafes — and thus cut off their access to cannabis, one of nature’s gifts to the human race (but a good gift, unlike coronavirus, which is trash).

Spread of the disease has interrupted the rhythm of daily life worldwide, with schools, restaurants, cinemas, concerts, and public gatherings of all sizes closed and canceled across Europe and the United States. Several Bay Area dispensaries, including San Francisco’s Green Cross, have announced closures. Others are going delivery-only.

But at least among weedheads in the Netherlands, there is a silver lining. While some mainstays like The Bulldog announced temporary closures of their locations, it appears not all coffee shops are technically “closed.” They’re just going pick-up only.

“Coffeeshops are open for Take Away!” Coffeeshop IBIZA Amstedam posted on Facebook on Monday evening. “We Start Tomorrow 10:00-01:00.”

Fear and panic have gripped much of the world since the coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, steadily and then rapidly spread across the globe. Among the hardest-hit areas of the world are Italy, where the coronavirus has overwhelmed hospitals, and Iran, where satellite photos of what appear to be mass graves have sparked speculation that the virus is far more deadly than first known.

Without a cure or a vaccine, the best method of defense against the virus appears to be “social isolation,” the avoidance of crowds and crowded or well-traveled areas so that the virus has less opportunity to spread, thus relieving overtaxed hospitals.

And periods of solitude, cooped up indoors with friends, roommates, or loved ones, is apparently best done while in weed. Massachusetts, which still has very few retail outlets selling cannabis in its third year of legalization, saw enormous lines outside its dispensaries over the weekend, as WGBH reported — and that was without rumor that closing time was coming.

Over the weekend, Arie Slob, a Dutch minister, said coffeeshops as well as sex clubs in Amsterdam would have to shut their doors by 6 p.m. local time Sunday and remain shut, along with schools and restaurants, until April 6.

As of Sunday, there were 1,135 known cases of coronavirus in the country, with 20 deaths.

And the Dutch reacted. By midday Sunday, lines to enter one of the city’s coffeeshops were, well, very long.

While it’s true that coffeeshops must go the way of restaurants and be clear of customers, it apparently does not mean that their wares cannot be purchased.

Per the actions of Ibiza and a few others, like restaurants in New York and points further away, the Dutch shutdown order apparently means that customers can pick up an order and then make their way back towards social isolation at their leisure — although, as Bulldog’s closure indicates, some coffeeshops are taking the coronavirus situation more seriously than others.

Authorities haven’t stepped in, at least for now. Long lines count as large groups, and it remains to be seen how the Dutch will decide to act if the queues don’t disappear before coronavirus does. But until then, if you’re abroad and you really need weed, you’re okay. Just be smart and safe about it and if you have pre-existing lung issues, consider either edibles or taking a pass, as you’re particularly susceptible to coronavirus.

TELL US, have you stocked up on weed?

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