High Times Cannabis Cup report: Pot critic William Breathes catches the buzz (PHOTOS)

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Colorado cannabis is better than anything Amsterdam's got, and the medicine here is on par with, if not better than, what is coming out of California.

While we already knew that here in Colorado, it was still cool to hear those words come out of High Times editor Danny Danko's mouth last night at the 2011 High Times Cannabis Cup award ceremony.

I don't think anyone really knew what to expect from the Cannabis Cup. Even dispensary owners I spoke with beforehand had only an inkling. Were people really going to be able to light up? Would staffers be able to hand out meds to patients? What coalesced, though, turned out to be easily one of the most amazing cannabis events in Colorado short of passing Amendment 20 nearly twelve years ago.

See a photo slide show from the Medical Cannabis Cup

Inside Exdo was a miniature version of the massive KushCon II from last December, with dispensaries and bong shops setting up booths. The big difference was that the majority of the dispensaries this weekend were displaying real cannabis on their tables -- something KushCon frowned upon. Half of the large hall was given over to speakers, including talks from Danko on hash making and cultivation tips. All of that was cool, and it definitely had a more relaxed and patient-driven vibe than the corporate-feeling KushCon. But what really made the cup worthwhile was going on outside and down the alley.

In a warehouse not connected to Exdo, hundreds of medical marijuana patients lit up and created the largest hot box I have ever been a part of. Massive pillows of ganja smoke were billowing over the head of the security guard checking to make sure our wristbands were all in order. Inside was exactly what a cannabis convention should look like. Thick air, hazy eyes and bong load after bong load of smoke being blown around the huge room. Some dispensaries were giving out herb, others were playing it more sly and only displaying their ganja while puffing with patients a few steps away from their booths. At one booth, there was an at least five-foot glass bong being packed up for patients, while across the way, another group was filling up equally as tall Volcano bags and offering a hit to anyone who would walk by.

The Cannasseur dispensary had one of the most creative booths, offering a plywood simulation of a first-class private jet lounge and having their budtenders dress like flight attendants. Cannasseur also had some the most delicious samples of herb, with the scantily-clad stewardesses handing out bong rips of Kurple Fantasy from sick 4.0 Glass micro tubes. The Clinic also had a unique setup, letting patients play on a homemade The Price Is Right-like Klinko board for coupons and specials. A lot of booths had oil rigs, so it was fun to walk around and try different waxes and budders -- though some booths neglectfully weren't wiping down pipes with sanitary wipes, and the thought of catching some crap from one of the hundreds of other puffers kept me away on occasion. Still, having that many people together all for cannabis, and to have our community recognized by High Times, was exciting.

See a photo slide show from the Medical Cannabis Cup

One strange thing, even for a guy in the media, was all of the media. It seems like around every corner, someone being followed by their pet documentary film crew. People seemed to love hamming it up for the cameras, especially when the crew from G4's Attack of the Show would walk by a booth of puffing patients. I also met a few people from a crew in town filming for National Geographic, as well as another independent documentary film. I know it's legal here, and we should have no shame in what we are doing -- but as attorney Warren Edson appropriately asked after the event: "You know those cameras were on, right?"

But cameras or not, the powers-that-be were well aware of what was going on -- including Dan Hartman, director of the Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division. Hartman was not very happy with the blatant puffing according to several dispensary owners who were on-site when he showed up to speak as part of a panel on legal issues on Sunday. But his visit didn't dampen the spirits any more than the spring snowstorm that blew in overnight.

By 7 p.m., the crowd collected in the main hall for the awards ceremony, which should have been the highlight of the weekend. Instead, it turned out to be the only real drag of the event. No offense to the guys at High Times who worked so hard to put the cup on, but the thirty-minute self-serving video about the history of the magazine's covers bored everyone to silence before the awards even began. The crowd really got restless during some random comedian's horridly unfunny set. After about an hour of fluff and more corny jokes from High Times editor Dan Skye about how all of our dispensary names sound alike, they finally got down to the awards.

I was surprised by some of the winners -- namely Banana Kush coming in as both third place in the hybrid category and first place in the indica category. I also thought that the guys from Hitman Glass should have placed first. Not that the sick D-Rock bubbler from Lazy J's that took the top spot wasn't extremely worthy, but the turbine oil tube with a built-in glass blowtorch is something I've never even conceived of. (Update: The bubbler was actually a collaboration between D-Rock and Adam G. We've changed the credit in our winner's list below.) Cheeba Chews deserved their win for best edible, and I highly suggest trying one out if you haven't yet (literally just one -- trust me). The Colorado-made Incredibowl also did well and took home two awards (their Sherlock oil attachment looked like a pretty cool device). Otherwise, I haven't tried any of the first place winners yet, but I plan to do so over the next few weeks in Mile Highs and Lows. Expect to see something about Mile High Green Cross, which managed to pull off two first place wins in both the hybrid and indica categories.

Congratulations to all of the winners, and thank you for keeping Colorado that much higher.

Page down to see photos of some beautiful-looking strains, bongs and so forth, as well as a complete list of winners.

See a photo slide show from the Medical Cannabis Cup

See a photo slide show from the Medical Cannabis Cup See a photo slide show from the Medical Cannabis Cup See a photo slide show from the Medical Cannabis Cup

Page down for the list of winners.

Best Glass: Third place: The Incredibowl Sherlock attachment. Second Place: Hitman Glass oil tube with attached glass blowtorch. First Place: D-Rock and Adam G.-worked drop bubbler piece from Lazy J's smokeshop.

Best Product: Third place: Crucible titanium nail/bar set from Broadway Wellness Second place: Hitman Glass vortex tubes First place: Incredibowl

Best edibles: Third place: Mountain Medicine blueberry pie bar from Good Chemistry Second place: Pecanna Bar from Standing Akimbo First place: Cheeba Chews double dose

Best Concentrates: Third place: Lemon G-13 from the Greenest Green Second place: Hong Kong stable oil from Broadway Wellness First place: Grape Ape wax from Salida Green Cross

Highest CBD: Second place: BubbleGum Kush from Project Green works First place: pre-98 Bubba Kush from the Clinic on Holly (12.7%)

Best Hybrid: Third place: Banana Kush from Highland Health Second place: White Dawg from A Cut Above First place: Sour Grape from Mile High Green Cross

Best Indica: Third place: Chemdawg from Highland Health Second place: L.A. Confidential from 420 Wellness First place: Banana Kush from Mile High Green Cross

Best Sativa: Third place: Island Sweet Skunk from Grassroots Wellness Second place: Alpha Blue from The Farm First Place: Snow Dog from Natural Alternatives

See a photo slide show from the Medical Cannabis Cup

More from our Follow That Story archive: "William Breathes: Top 5 questions Facebook & Twitter pals asked our pot critic after CNN piece."

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