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10 of the Top Travel Destinations to Get High

Here are some travel spots where the drug culture is as fascinating as Italy's cuisine.

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California dispensaries sell a variety of strains, from relaxing indicas like Grape Ape to energizing sativas like Purple Haze. In general, sativa is a more stimulating, brain-high, good for daytime use, while indica offers more of a chilled-out body buzz that makes it well-suited for pain management and bedtime use. Still, there are many strains that offer different combinations of the two, and smoking is not the only way to use marijuana. For the inhalation-adverse, marijuana llozenges, spray tinctures, foods, and candy are sold in many California dispensaries.

You may know Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, one of California’s most famous dispensaries, from the Discovery Channel documentary series "Weed Wars." The largest dispensary in the world, Harborside doesn’t just sell pot, but offers home-grow classes and other health services like accupuncture and yoga. Despite local respect for the institution, Harborside may soon be a victim of the federal crackdown on medical pot:  The dispensary recently received a threatening letter from US attorney Melinda Haag. (Should the forfeiture threat by executed, Harborside’s 1,000 patients may have to switch shops or enter the black market, while the city will lose $3 million in taxes per year.)

9) Portugal. Portugal is leading the world in drug policy reform: Up to 10 days of any drug’s supply is not a criminal offense. Since Portugal decriminalized small amounts of drugs 11 years ago, youth drug use (as well as HIV and overdose deaths) decreased, but the country has not become a mecca for drug consumption. Rather, for those looking to use drugs safely (or see what sane drug policy looks like), Portugal is the place to go. Needle exchanges and opioid substitution programs help to reduce the harm of use and addiction, alongside about 73  specialized treatment facilities, 14 detoxification units, 70 public outpatient facilities and 13 accredited day centers.

Also of note is that, while marijuana is illegal but widely available, Portugal has a legal hemp market. There are shops across the country, including  Metamorfose and Planet Sensi in Porto, that sell hemp products and double as head shops. There’s also  cognoscitiva, a hemp/grow shop with multiple locations (including Lisbon) selling all the seeds and tools necessary to get a good grow going.

10) Uruguay. Uruguay never criminalized the possession of drugs for personal use, and is now considering a government-run marijuana program. Tourists are not included in the plan, but if the proposal goes into effect, scoring some quality pot without risking arrest should be far from difficult. Cocaine paste-- an intermediary stage in cocaine preparation -- is also popular in Uruguay, and contributing to a growing addiction problem legalizing marijuana may gather the funds to help treat. Because near Uruguay is where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet, the region has long been important territory for drug traffickers, and is responsible for Uruguay’s high-volume cocaine market.  

The bottom line is that, even if Uruguay’s legalization plan will only sell weed to locals, you won’t get locked up for buying it (or other drugs), and can enjoy the country’s beautiful beaches with a good buzz, minus the paranoia.


Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor and drug policy reporter at AlterNet.  Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne