Welcome to beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. Though most Americans may not realize it, our city is world-renowned for its slack drug laws, high-quality toke, and the ease with which it's purchased. Forget about Amsterdam; B.C. is currently the pot capital of the universe -- Vancouver, in particular. In fact, our herb is so popular, it's unofficially rated as the province's number one export and industry, even ahead of lumber and fishing. And who's our biggest customer? The good old U.S.A. It's estimated that about 75 percent of B.C.'s pot yield is scooped up by American buyers. And who knows? Maybe you're one of them.

But here in Vancouver, we're not content with just selling it. We've gone so far as to provide the weary traveler with a suitable place to smoke our primo weed. Let's venture into Vancouver's newest pot hangout -- Blunt Bros. (317 W. Hastings). The first thing you notice is an abundance of "No Smoking" signs. Ah, but don't be fooled! Inside, people are lounging, playing pool, cutting up pot, and rolling perfect, massive doobies. Big, fat roaches lie about everywhere, without an ashtray to be seen.

On your right, you'll find a display where every kind of pot paraphernalia is purveyed: exotic papers, pipes, and made-on-the-premises glass bongs of every tripped-out description. Interested in music? Then march past the merch to find a stage where the band is setting up. Behind them is a wall-to-wall mural of statues dedicated to the great dead guitar deities of rock -- Jimi, Marley, Stevie Ray, and since this is a pot bar, Jerry.

Plant your butt and dig the surroundings. Girls do a mellow version of the Deadhead twirl, huffing on hand-held mini bongs, and grooving to whatever beat happens to be playing in their zonked-out heads. However, not all the Blunt Bros. patrons are hippies -- in fact, you may even find the occasional couple from the 30-plus, T-shirt-tucker crowd. They often sit there quietly, stoned and bemused, watching the band and the twirlies. They don't feel horribly out of place; though the air may be heavy with smoke, and the rugs covered with burn holes, Blunt Bros. is a clean establishment, with snappy, friendly service.

However, at closing time, when the staff comes to clean up the tables, don't be surprised if they don't touch the roaches. This is likely a smart store policy: Never be caught holding. At Blunt Bros. you bring your own smoke, and if you get busted? It's not the establishment's fault. According to one waitress, the cops haven't bothered them yet.

The cops' disinterest is easy to understand; the courts are crammed, and the judges no longer want their courts clogged with small-time pot smokers. For the police to bother with Blunt Bros. means they'd have to go in and arrest everyone individually for possession. So, for the time being, they let them be. And of course, Blunt Bros. smartly and strongly prohibits any selling or buying of illegal substances on the premises.

Luckily, Greater Vancouver is tailor-made for the consumer looking to score a little bud -- especially since the climate and sod of this province is pretty darn good for growing pot year-round. In fact, pot is so ingrained in the local culture that you can't swing a skinny hippie without smackin' a pot dealer. Every coffee bar's got one. In the clubs, bouncers know people are puffin' away -- it's cool, they just don't wanna see it. In East Vancouver, take a three-block jaunt, and you're likely to pass two or three grow houses. See? Even the laziest chronic only has to wander a couple blocks to score!

At the notorious nude Wreck Beach (the westernmost point of Vancouver, by the University of B.C.), you can procure all manner of joints, baggies, and cookies. Recently, a dumb daddy bought some "tea cookies" for his family, who were soon checking into the hospital, queasy and hallucinating. (This was a fave page-two story for a couple of days!) There are also a handful of joints similar to Blunt Bros. around Vancouver that feature "herb-friendly" nights, but since they tend to be sporadic in nature, the wise traveler will inquire at local hemp shops to find those new spots where one can openly spark up.

So leave your embarrassment in the States, and light up here in beautiful B.C. -- everyone's doing it! Sure, it may be legal in Amsterdam, but who needs legalization, anyway? The fact that it's against the law is half the fun! And as long as there's so much dough to be made, people will always be tokin' in droves here in God's hemp harvest. Come to Canada, and celebrate the freedom to honk the hookah. Up here, it's nature's way.

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