420 in Amsterdam

There were no rap-style gun battles at Amsterdam's 420 outdoor event, but I must admit that I did glance paranoically at random strangers' bags. Whether that paranoia had anything to do with the events in Boston or the activities surrounding 420, I can't say for sure, but I must admit that it involved a little of both. Though Colorado's 420 event was in many ways a celebration of freedom, Amsterdam's was a call for activism.
There are many ways in which the Dutch enjoy more freedoms than the average American, but when it comes to marijuana legislation, the Dutch have fallen behind in terms of how forward their policies are. While some states have legalized the cultivation of cannabis, it still remains illegal in the Netherlands. Citizens are allowed to grow 5 plants for personal consumption, but of course demand far exceeds what can be produced legally.
The individuals speaking outside of Amsterdam's city hall were calling for an end to the cannabis backdoor. When you buy marijuana in an Amsterdam coffeeshop, you have no guarantee of quality. The coffeeshop is essentially buying the cannabis under the table based on a trust system. This quirk in Dutch law means that the society is basically structured towards creating criminal enterprises. Naturally, gangs that engage in the wholesale cultivation of cannabis often have the discrete talents necessary for other "enterprises." 
The activists protesting outside city hall in Amsterdam were calling for regulation; they want to smoke a quality product with a guarantee, in the same way that many of their American counterparts now can. It could be argued that the Netherlands' very low cannabis usage is indicative of the success of its drug laws, and perhaps that is why the Dutch public has not made much of an effort to reform its by-now outdated policies. One of the speakers on stage was a German living near the border.
Anonymous Toker
"Preventing foreigners from being able to enter coffeeshops is discrimination and is antithesis to a free, united Europe!" he loudly proclaimed to much fanfare and smoke. The past year saw attempts by the Dutch government to prevent foreigners from being able to enter coffeeshops. The government partly succeeded, and coffeeshops in the South of the country are closed off to foreigners.
However, the uptick on street dealing and outdoor criminality convinced many people that giving cities the choice to ban foreigners was better than a nation-wide ban. It was a partial victory which ensured that Amsterdam remained a smoker's haven. Nonetheless, further legislation was promoted in attempts to limit the amount of THC -- the main psychoactive substance in cannabis -- to 15%. One coffeeshop owner cried out: "The government doesn't tell you how big your whisky glass can be. You're supposed to know that you can't drink whisky in a beer glass. It's common sense. Who's the government to tell us that we don't have common sense? When hard liquor is more destructive. We don't have any interactions with the police on a typical weekend; people come to coffeeshops from all over the world and interact on the same level. Bars, on the other hand, often have to deal with the police after brawls and other incidents."
I agreed with everything he was saying up until he proclaimed that hard liquor didn't belong in a beer glass. After he was done speaking, I went on stage to tell the crowd that whisky could indeed be placed inside of a beer glass, but the cameraman next to me told me that the "Amsterdammers voor whiskey en bierglas" rally was due to take place the following week.
The crowd was estimated to be just under one thousand, far lower than Colorado's 80,000 -- it  still remains to be seen if 420 will become as popular here as it has in the US, but this year's rally was much bigger than the last. 
There were two female police officers behind the crowd, and most likely one or two undercover. There were no incidents reported beyond long pizza line queues.