by David Downs
Bay Area dispensaries are submitting their best buds this week for judgment in the second annual High Times Medical Cannabis Cup San Francisco, hosted by the iconic counterculture magazine on Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26.
Called the Academy Awards of cultivation by some, the combination expo/concert/weed contest gets bigger this year, taking over the spacious Concourse exhibition center, deep in the city’s South of Market area. Tickets run $50 for the two-day event. A $100 VIP pass includes shows by Junior Reid, Curren$y and Kottonmouth Kings. Neither passes include cannabis.
According to High Times west coast editor David Bienenstock, qualified patients can bring their own herb for use in a special “215” area of the show, while medical professionals will also be on hand, presumably to write recommendations for qualified patients.
Arguably the most prominent, branded cannabis cup in Northern California, the event drew 4,000 people last year and its share of detractors. Contest methodology, for example, has proven contentious. “The winners tend to think it was brilliantly done, and the losers …,” Bienenstock said.
Last year, Fred Gardner of the East Bay medical marijuana newspaper O'Shaughnessy's reported that the cup's nine celebrity judges tested 42 sativas in six days. “It's impossible for judges, soon after sampling strain #1, to distinguish the effect of sample #2,” Gardner wrote.
“God's Pussy” from the Crescent City dispensary Grean Bicycles took the 2010 Sativa Prize, while “Cali Gold” from Mr. Natural Inc. took the Indica Award. The name of the winning sativa immediately elicited groans and online protests, and has since been charged to “Vortex” to reflect its true origins, according to High Times. [Stuff Stoners Like has the saga.]
This year the SF Cup adds a “hybrid” category and Bienenstock said ticketing will be much less problematic than last year, when the sold-out show drew very long lines. “I think there was definitely a learning curve and I think we've learned a lot of different lessons and we're going to apply those to this event for sure,” he said.
Oakland’s Steep Hill Lab will again test all cup entrants. Oakland's Harborside Health Center and Purple Heart Patient Center both said they'll be entering strains, among a field of at least 50 dispensaries submitting at least 75 strains.
Bienenstock noted that High Times has hosted the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam for 24 years, modeled after the backwoods dope fairs of Northern California. High Times founder Tom Forcade himself personally smuggled bales of the stuff in his heyday.
“We're always honored that anybody buys the magazine and shows up at our events. We feel like we're a part of something really big and important,” Bienenstock said.
Over in the actual Netherlands, some towns are currently banning weed tourism.
Bienenstock said the Amsterdam Cannabis Cup isn't going anywhere. Coffeeshop tourism in the liberal metropolis is still a huge business.
“You have the conservative
religious political majority in the Dutch government, but Amsterdam the city is vowing to fight this tooth and nail,” he said. “We have every belief that they are going to continue to successfully fight this in Amsterdam.
“But, that said, if it's always been a dream to go to Amsterdam for the Cannabis Cup, you should probably do it, because you never know.”
High Times Medical Cannabis Cup San Francisco
$50 for two days/ $40 per day. [$100 VIP includes live music.]
Saturday June 25th - 26th.
Concourse Exhibition Center
635 8th St. San Francisco, CA. 94103
Entertainment: Curren$cy, Junior Reid & Kottonmouth Kings Saturday at 7 p.m.
Best Sativa, Indica, Hybrid, Edible, Concentrate and more Awards Sunday at 7 p.m.
Expo/Panel highlights: Bill Panzer, Esq. (NORML Board of Directors) Saturday, 1:30 p.m.; High Times cultivation Editor Nico Escondido / Steep Hill Labs discuss judging criteria Sunday, 5 p.m.