January 22, 2006

Marijuana show aims for new high in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Marijuana growers gathered in
Europe's pot-smoking capital on Sunday for a trade show that is
taking on the trappings of a major industry fair, complete with
scantily clad models, glossy brochures and, of course, samples.

But instead of posing next to muscle cars, the models
explained the intricacies of hydroponics culture such as the
"iGrow-box Intensive Irrigation System" and exhibitors showed
off their bongs, grinders, rolling paper, reflective film,
hemp-fabric apparel and how-to marijuana growing videos.

"This gives you an uplifting high, up in the mind, not in
your body," marijuana cultivator Arjan Roskam said of his
latest Cannabis Cup-winning strain, "Arjan's Haze #1."

Roskam, who says he has hosted celebrities such as 50 Cent
and Eminem in his Amsterdam coffee shops, was selling his
prize-winning plant seeds for 100 euros ($121) alongside other
strains such as the "Great White Shark" and "Hawaiian Snow."

Andre Beckers, the organizer of the International Highlife
Hemp Fair, said he was expecting 15,000 to 20,000 visitors at
the fair, held for the first time in Amsterdam instead of
Utrecht, a smaller Dutch city to the southeast of the capital.

"This is part of the normalization process," Beckers said.
"People see this as a normal fair."

While Dutch "coffee shops" are allowed to sell small
quantities of marijuana, growing and distribution of cannabis
remain illegal in the Netherlands. Police were at the fair but
did not appear to be taking action against the growers.