Nowhere are as many joints smoked as in Rotterdam: 'I'm always a little stoned.

Crumbing, rolling, licking, and lighting up. According to recent research, nowhere in Europe would as much smoking occur as in Rotterdam. 74-year-old Willem Bes is one of those smokers: 'I only smoke small ones, you know. I think about six joints a day.

Faye, a 22-year-old woman, sits with her legs stretched out on a raised platform with a pre-rolled joint on her lap. The Rotterdam native has been smoking since her teenage years and at one point smoked as much as 10 grams of weed - six to ten joints - in a day. 'I used to buy 5 grams in the morning and another 5 grams in the evening. Now I try to limit it to four or five joints a day. But honestly, I'm always a little stoned.'


For Faye, the hustle and bustle around her are unbearable if she doesn't smoke. 'When my head gets crowded, I can't handle it. Smoking is the only way for me to get through the day. When I'm high, my mind is calm.'

Fay and Willen in front coffeeshop Trefpunt
Photo: Algemeen Dagblad

Monsters from Sewage Water

Recent European research from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) revealed that people in Rotterdam use more cannabis than in cities like Antwerp, Paris, and Amsterdam.


The drug use in these cities was investigated by sampling sewage water for a week in each city.


To measure cannabis use, researchers looked for a substance that is produced when cannabis is excreted by a person.


This means that the results are not skewed by marijuana farms disposing of weed into the sewage system, and it can be reasonably assured that the measurements reflect actual usage.

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My little baggie and my tobacco pouch

At the well-known Rotterdam coffeeshop Trefpunt on Botersloot, which according to the staff attracts an incredibly diverse crowd, native Rotterdammer Willem Bes (74) has just bought a bag of weed. He's been smoking since he was 15. 'I only smoke small ones, you know. I think about six joints a day, but some days I smoke nothing.'


According to Bes, he has played a significant role in cannabis use in Rotterdam. Speaking in the purest Rotterdam dialect, he says, 'It took us a long time, but because of us - it's all possible, you know,' he says, pointing to the facade of Trefpunt. 'Coffeeshops and all'.


He continues: "When I was 15, all of us in the neighborhood demonstrated for a community center in Schiebroek where we could smoke. I got quite a beating from the riot police during that demonstration. They used to be really rough back then. We used to smoke outside on the streets, but we were always chased away by the police."


Willem Bes hasn't drunk alcohol for 25 years and has never used any other drugs. "I don't need all that nonsense. I get my little baggie and my tobacco pouch, I roll my joints, and then I'm perfectly content."

Further Research

The veteran of the coffeeshop scene is far from alone. According to Laura Smit-Rigter from the Trimbos research institute, the results of the European study mainly indicate that more research is needed. "Based on this study, we cannot draw conclusions about why cannabis use is particularly high in Rotterdam. The most important thing is that we now need to identify who these users are and how many of them are using problematically."


According to Smit-Rigter, the research shows that many users consume cannabis daily. "There is, of course, also a group of medicinal users.


Even if they receive a prescription, they often still go to the coffeeshop. Medicinal cannabis is stronger and more expensive than what you buy in a regular coffeeshop."

Willem Bes in front coffeeshop Trefpunt Rotterdam
Photo: Algemeen Dagblad

She emphasizes the risks of long-term and frequent cannabis use. "It's a myth that cannabis is not addictive, of course. In the long term, you can definitely become dependent on it. Moreover, there are people who have a certain sensitivity and can really become psychotic from THC (the active substance in cannabis)."

(Source: Maandag 25 maart 2024 | Het laatste nieuws het eerst op

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