Preview: High Times Medical Cannabis Cup In SF Is Cool, But It Ain't Amsterdam



The Bay Area's roaring cannabis economy gets a new yardstick: the first-ever High Times Medical Cannabis Cup this June 19-20 in San Francisco. The 35 year-old counter-culture magazine has hosted its famed Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam every year for over twenty years now, making it a pop culture icon and global tourist attraction. The contest High Times brings to Terra in San Francisco should be considerably more tame. For one: buying a $50 ticket to the High Times Medical Cannabis Cup does not get you anything to smoke.

“You're not going to get cannabis in exchange for a ticket,” says High Times west coast editor David Bienenstock. “Voting is done by a small group of perhaps nine. We run the event in the most responsible way we can.”


“We are going to supply a list of dispensary entries who won so patients can visit and try any entry they want. Even in Amsterdam, the Cannabis Cup can't give you weed. Tolerated coffee shops can.”

Only patients with a doctor's recommendation for cannabis will be allowed to consume in an outdoor “Prop 215 Section” of the expo, but "medical professionals will be available on-site," High Times states. (Presumably, to write recommendations to new patients.)

High Times wants to shine a light on the best medicine in the Bay Area and beyond, tapping an underground history going back to the Seventies.

“Anybody who's ever grown the plant, especially for medical purposes, wants to grow the best medicine and a lot of people in California say they grow the best medicine,” Bienenstock says. “Back in the Seventies before the drug crackdown rural growers would have informal contests during harvest season to rate their product — which must have been the first ever greatest county fair to not suck of all time.”

Vintage, blue-ribbon strains like OG Kush and Granddaddy Purple fled overseas during American pot prohibition. They flourished in Amsterdam and have since returned to California with a punch.

Awards will go to the best indica, sativa, concentrate (hash), and edibles (brownies, etc.) during the Sunday night awards show, which costs $50 and comes with access to a two-day expo, assorted seminars, and merchandise. The Saturday night VIP Cup party is a separate $50 ticket and features killer rock band Eagles of Death Metal, and local fave Lyrics Born.

Panelists include: Valerie Corral; Bill Panzer; Debby Goldsberry; Steve DeAngelo; Jorge Cervantes; DJ Short; Paul Armentano; all High Times cultivation editors; and a lifetime achievement award for Dr. Lester Grinspoon.

The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup coincides with the launch this year of their new Medical Marijuana Quarterly, now in its second issue.