Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Miley Cyrus and Cyprus Hill all cruise by here, now you know why.t
There are few coffeeshops in Amsterdam that are as well-known and legendary as Green House. With four coffeeshop locations, a seed company and a series of “Strain Hunters” movies, Green House is an unstoppable enterprise that lives up to Amsterdam’s lofty reputation for fun and exceptional weed tourism.
Green House was founded by Arjan Roshkam in 1992. In those days most coffeeshops in Amsterdam only offered hash or skunk weed while Arjan was growing special cannabis strains, which coffeeshops weren’t interested in selling. Thus this revolutionary entrepreneur decided to open a new kind of coffeeshop of his own and set up shop in de Pijp, the original coffeeshop, just outside the city center.
He then entered the High Times Cannabis Cup, the world famous competition slash festival for marijuana, and won right away for his ingenious hybrid strains. Green House has won the Cannabis Cup over 40 times ever since and sells many of their award-winning strains in their coffeeshops. A few notable champions are the Super Silver Haze, Super Lemon Haze, Pure Kush, Hawaiian Snow and Ultra Haze.
Arjan now works on “Strain Hunters” movies, a series of documentaries in which he goes around the world looking for lost cannabis strains in far-flung places like India, Africa and Colombia. The “Strain Hunters” documentaries have been wildly successful, as Vice has gotten involved with production and even HBO has picked up the documentary on Congo for broadcast this fall.
Green House has its own seed company which is in charge of creating new strains, stabilizing the strain and putting it out on the market. The super awesome manager of Green House Coffeeshop, Joa Helms, gave us a thorough low-down on how affairs in the coffeeshops and the overall marijuana industry work.
What we want to do is we want to create new strains that are super nice to smoke. And we have a few years before the competition finds out and they can copy the product, basically, because they can buy seeds from us, they can grow the plant, they can make their own seeds and give it a different name. It’s very difficult to patent it. But in our opinion it’s good that way. You have to find different ways of being creative as a company and make yourself special in that way.
Joa has been with Green House as a manager and partner for 20 years. He gets to chill and party and smoke weed with guests that come into the coffeeshops. Such guests include Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Miley Cyrus and Cyprus Hill. He watched the NBA Finals with Rihanna this year. Every celebrity that comes to Green House further solidifies its reputation as an institution in Amsterdam and the cannabis world that can’t missed.
Green House Coffeeshops are generally open, unpretentious and very chill. There are four different locations in Amsterdam and each has a different theme and vibe. The one shown in the video is the coffeeshop on Haarlemmerstraat, which is a beautiful, picturesque street lined with nice shops, restaurants and more coffeeshops. This particular Green House location is welcoming with a large, open shopfront and lots of space to smoke, lounge and eat. The Green House Kitchen next door is also a plus, where one can smoke weed from a vape and eat healthy, seasonal food in a sunny interior.
We call it a joint because it joins people really. In a coffeeshop you see different people from all different religions, all colors, straight, gay, lawyers, plumbers, Muslims, atheists, and they’re all sitting together and we talk. We talk about all kinds of stuff and this is really the nice thing about coffeeshops: that everybody comes and everybody mingles. I think it’s the only place in the world where such a thing happens, where you see people from different religions come together.
Everyone on staff is also very friendly and willing to interact with guests and provide information about different products and strains. The folks on the service staff that take orders and run food for the restaurant are also super nice, which makes being at Green House Coffeeshop an all-around positive experience.
We also wanted to elevate a little bit the level of service, do something that you wouldn’t expect in a coffeeshop. Most people expect this stereotype of a coffeeshop. When you think of it you think of something with lots of neon and reggae music and a little bit dark with small windows. But we wanted to make everything opposite. So we have really big windows, everything is open, cozy lighting and different kinds of music. We wanted to be open and create that kind of vibe. We wanted to create an atmosphere where we would also take our parents, even if they don’t smoke.
Trying to make marijuana more socially acceptable and spreading the “Green Wave” around the world is a core mission for the Green House company. Although marijuana seems widely accepted in Amsterdam, Joa explains that selling cannabis in coffeeshops is technically not legal, only tolerated.
“What we have is basically a deal with the mayor of the city in which he says,
‘Look, if you follow some rules like don’t sell hard drugs, no minors, don’t sell more than 5 grams, you can only have 500 grams in your coffeeshop, don’t cause any disturbance in the street, then I will look the other way if you do all that.’
Our goals are, in Holland, we want to try to help create a transparent system in politics. If it’s legal or regulated, it doesn’t really matter, but that it becomes better organized so we can grow our own weed and we can control the quality of the weed.”
Green House and other cannabis activists really want to move away from shady politics and make marijuana socially acceptable as much as possible, as they genuinely believe that smoking weed would make the world a better place.
If everybody smoked a little bit, more or less, it’d be a much better world. From that belief I also started to work in the Green House and from that belief we continue.
Photos: Nadia Cho
Where’s your favorite coffeeshop in Amsterdam? Let us know in the comments.