Cannabis Liberation Day, the biggest cannabis and hemp event in the Netherlands, celebrates its tenth edition this year, with a spectacular line up of international speakers and bands and a new feature: the Cannabis Olympics. As always, entry to the outdoor protestival in Amsterdam’s Flevopark is free.
In its first three years, Cannabis Liberation Day was held in the first weekend of May, to coincide with the Global Marijuana March. The decision to move to the middle of June in 2012 meant that the weather was a lot better from then on: no small matter for an outdoor event in the Netherlands. Cannabis Liberation Day is organized by the VOC, the Union for abolition of cannabis prohibition, a Dutch NGO fighting for legalization.
“On Cannabis Liberation Day we celebrate the international cannabis culture”, VOC chairman Derrick Bergman explains, “and we show how much good this plant has to offer. We’re a protestival, a festival with a clear message. We advocate for legalization of cannabis, and broad utilization of the plant as medicine, alternative for alcohol and sustainable raw material. And we protest against the repression and criminalization of the plant, cannabis consumers, coffeeshops and growers. This is still very necessary: the Dutch cannabis policy has gone from tolerant and progressive to outright repressive. The world moves forward, while we move backwards. We raise our voices against this and invite foreign speakers to talk about legalization in their countries.”
The location of the event definitely adds to the mellow, laid back atmosphere: Flevopark is one of Amsterdam’s oldest and biggest parks. Dutch member of parliament Vera Bergkamp has visited Cannabis Liberation Day twice and called it “the most relaxed festival I have ever been at” on Twitter. The main stage, with bands, DJ’s, and speakers from The Netherlands and abroad is the heart of the event. On the Hemp Market, cannabis and hemp related companies and organizations from around Europe present themselves. Pretty much everything that has to do with the plant is for sale, except for cannabis itself, of course.
The “Cannabis University”, launched in 2017, boasts a full program of panel debates, Q&A sessions and masterclasses, presenting some of the biggest names in the cannabis world. Confirmed speakers for this year include ‘Guru of Ganja’ Ed Rosenthal (US), bestselling author and organic cowboy Doug Fine (US), veteran cannabis activist Dana Larsen (Canada) and The Dagga Couple (South Africa). Among the musical highlights are France’s favorite stoner band Le Peuple de l‘Herbe, the spectacular multi-ethnic group Nusodia and upcoming reggae and soul sensation Samora from Amsterdam.
Other popular features of Cannabis Liberation Day are the Vape Lounge hosted by main sponsor Amsterdam Genetics / Boerejongens coffeeshops and the free traditional Dutch “Zweefmolen” or Giant’s Stride. A new addition are the Cannabis Olympics, consisting of five fun games. The first 500 visitors to complete all five games win a cannabis medal and all participants can take part in a raffle to win a cannabis holiday to Barcelona.
What makes Cannabis Liberation Day extra attractive is the fact that consuming cannabis is totally legal (if you are 18 years or older) at the event. The nearest coffeeshop is conveniently located at some 800 meters walking distance from the park. The event offers a great mix of entertainment and education, as cannabis journalist Bill Griffin noted in The Marijuana Times: “Cannabis Liberation Day is an essential highlight in the European cannabis calendar in that it allows people to celebrate and have fun, but at the same time reminds them what needs to be done to drive things forward.”